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!