Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Rolling Green Apartments fire 1/21/13. Photo AFD Local 1764

A year after the tragic fire at Rolling Green Apartments two key questions remain unanswered:  What caused the fire; and did the victim -- UMass student Jake Hoffman -- originally escape the killer conflagration only to go back inside to retrieve something?

That rumor has persisted since even before the embers cooled.  And since the State Fire Marshall has not issued an official finding one way or the other, nobody wants to talk about it.

Twenty six years ago my Amherst apartment almost burned to the ground during a major structure fire.  After calling 911 and banging on doors of neighbors I went back in looking for my wife's favorite cat.  Repeatedly.

If not for a ranking member of AFD telling me up close, in no uncertain terms, to "Get the f-ck out now and stay out!" I may not have survived the deafening flashover less than 10 minutes later that shook the entire building and blew out windows in all four apartments.

Considering the chronic staffing problem at AFD we are fortunate fatal fires are far and few between.

But like that joke about helping God out by actually purchasing a lottery ticket to facilitate making the improbable happen, the one thing everybody needs to remember:  once you leave a burning building, stay the f_ck out!



Anonymous said...

VIIIScott uptymaMy guess, if he did go back in there, was that it was to avoid loosing something he considered worth dying for. My guess is his college degree, his future, and avoiding economic destitution from being expelled from UMass.

It's entirely possible that he died attempting to put a 9 volt battery back into a smoke detector out of fear of what would happen when Enku Gelaye were told that it had been missing from there.

This is the cost of the one-strike, no mercy approach that she has adopted. Bear in mind that it isn't the delinquents who are harmed by this -- they really don't care because they know that Daddy can make a few phone calls and maybe a nice $30,000 or $40,000 donation to the university and this will all go away.

No, the kids really harmed -- and this is what no one in the UM Dean of Student's office understands -- are the good kids who are terrified of getting into trouble.

Anonymous said...

Knock it off Ed. This is totally inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

It's inappropriate only if you consider preserving human life inappropriate.

There are some real costs to mindless zero-tolerance policies and I think that needs to be said.

Anonymous said...

This was a terrible tragedy. No one knows why this young man did what he did, and to turn it into your personal axe grinding about someone completely uninvolved in this accident is warped.

Anonymous said...

To claim that the first comment, which is based on complete speculation, is in any way related to Larry's post is a huge stretch.

Anonymous said...

I'm not talking about Larry. It's Ed's comment linking this to Enku Gelaye that I am referring to.

Anonymous said...

So, in other words, we don't ask why he went back in -- if he did, which we also don't know yet.

Not officially, at least.

I prefer to know why things happened. It makes it easier to prevent them from happening again.

And I am speculating no more or less than anyone else is -- we don't even (officially) even know if he ever made it out the first time, only that he is tragically dead. Knowing why won't undo that, but might save the next kid.

I mean, like, that is why we investigate causes of fires -- so we know *why* and thus can try not to have them happen again.

Knowing why Rolling Green burned won't un-burn it, but it might help prevent another similar fire...