Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Morning After

 Crossfire of water directed at roof Southpoint Apartments 6:00 PM Saturday

The Southpoint Apartment structures devastated by yesterday's fire are still standing, but four interconnecting buildings are currently uninhabitable -- leaving 36 families, possibly 100 individuals (many of them children), homeless.

 Almost midnight Saturday

In a college town where affordable housing is almost impossible to find.

Sunday morning 7:30 AM, AFD still on scene
Salvage operation front lawn 2:00 PM

But it could have been far, far worse.  Two first responders (one PD, one FD) were treated and released at Cooley Dickinson Hospital, but no tenants suffered physical injury.  The psychological injury, however, will take a long time to heal.

 Residents watching fire from a safe distance 5:30 PM yesterday

According to AFD Chief Nelson the list of departments involved via mutual aid goes like this:

Second Alarm

Belchertown EMS

Third Alarm


Fourth Alarm

Northampton – Ladder Truck

Town Coverage

South Hadley District 1 – Fire & EMS
South Hadley District 2

Department of Fire Services

Rehab Unit
Incident Support Unit


Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross

The town just last week took delivery of a new pumper that will be used as the front line Engine 1 but it still needs another week or two of equipment installation work, so it was not at the fire yesterday.

Ladder 1 with 102' aerial ladder armed with 1,000 gallons per minute gun swings into action

South Hadley FD responding to fire alarm Johnny's Tavern 7:00 PM

Northampton FD arrived early on to join the fight

Fire was started by pot left on stove in upstairs apartment and spread quickly to attic and then over to other units

Red Cross on scene dealing with "closer to 40 families" from the 36 housing units impacted by the fire

Red Cross confirms this recovery effort will be far more expensive than last year's Rolling Green Apartments fire 


Adam Sweet said...

What caused the fire?

Larry Kelley said...

Still under investigation.

Rolling Green Apartments fire took over a year, and even then the final conclusion was "inconclusive."

Dr. Ed said...

Question: Is it time to at least discuss these shared attics as fire risks?

Specifically to at least "recommend" both fire detection (heat detectors) and fire stops in the attics?

Specific fires that come to mind:

Granby Heights (spread through shared attics)

North Village -- only detected because tenant happened to look up and saw flames coming out of his bathroom exhaust fan - spread to adjacent unit through shared roof and but for early detection, likely would have spread wider to all units in block -- (NVA was originally flat roofs, shared pitched roofs added in mid '80's).

A complex on the Connecticut State Line -- bathroom exhaust fan went up into ductwork or something -- I'd actually been there that day.

Rolling Green -- inconclusive, I believe thought to have started in Bathroom -- definitely went into attic -- didn't it spread through attic and would a heat detector/box alarm have given AFD a few minutes more notice?

There are a couple more minor ones that I'm missing, but there have been quite a few of these and with the rental registry and all, is it time to start talking about locally mandating upgrades?

Memory is that Southpoint has building fire alarms, but I don't remember what they included -- and I know that "hindsight is 20-20." And I know that the fire isn't even out yet, let alone the cause determined and such -- but is it time to start asking some of these questions?

I have LONG worried about a fire just like this, except at 1 AM when everyone is asleep.

And I'll add one other thing about both Boulders & Southpoint -- the units ending in A1 & A2 were not originally apartments -- they sere storage areas. They just barely meet the fire egress rules because of a box nailed under the window, and the Boulder A2 units don't meet code because of ceiling height, and there is no way to make them meet it.

And Larry, media reported that Westover also rolled -- they aren't on your list or are they considered part of someone else's response?

Because they need our support said...

Fist bump for reaching out to the town and schools like that, Larry.

Once again, well done.

-Squeaky Squeaks