UMass student dies in Amherst fire

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An early morning fire at an Amherst apartment complex took the life of a UMass Amherst student whose identity is not yet being released.

"We had reports from some of the occupants here that one of their roommates was not accounted for when we got here," said Assistant Amherst Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren. "It was in the apartment where we believe the fire started so our crews were only able to make partial entry."

Stromgren said that it took crews around two hours to put out the heavy fire here at the Rolling Green Apt Complex. And, after the flames were out is when officials discovered that one person didn't make it out alive.

"Since the fire has been out we have gone back into the apartment," said Stromgren. "We have been able to verify unfortunately that there is a fatality a young male."

Around 30 people live in the 10 unit apartment complex.

"We woke up around 4:30 and people were banging on our door saying there was a fire and it was the apartment right next door to ours," said Bethany Cooke.

Cooke says that person likely saved her life.

"We don't even know who did it," said Cooke. "But, we wouldn't have woken up because the smoke alarm hadn't gone off yet because there was no smoke in our apartment."

State police and the State Fire Marshal's Office are assisting in the fire investigation.

Five apartments in the complex were totally gutted by the fire, but crews were able to prevent flames from spreading to the other section of the building.

"It was very strong when we got here. It got up into the roof space, and unfortunately it ran the whole length," said Stromgren. "As you can see it burned the whole roof off. Our crews were able to save the next section of the building, the second half of the building - we have a little bit of fire damage in the attic there."

The Red Cross is assisting those who are displaced. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Copyright 2013 WSHM (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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