Monday March 19, 2018
Three people are dead following a Springfield, Massachusetts fire in a four-story apartment building.
The Imam at the Islamic Center of Western Massachusetts says the three were members of his congregation, a father and his two young sons.
"The father went to save the children, and he stayed with them," Imam Wissam Abdul Baki said.
Their bodies were found in a second-floor apartment, the same floor where investigators say the fire started
"This is obviously a tragic situation that occurred."
The man's wife, who is four months pregnant, was able to escape. She is still in the hospital and is expected to be okay.
Baki says the family immigrated from Somalia years ago. He calls them hardworking and humble.
"Those people are immigrants, came to this country to find the best opportunities but the fate that was waiting for them."
By the time firefighters arrived at the scene on Belmont Avenue just after 7 a.m. Sunday, two people could be seen jumping out of third floor windows, a 30-foot fall.
Fire officials said those who jumped out of the windows included a pregnant woman and child. Those injured in the fire were taken to local hospitals.
Springfield Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi said fire alarms were going off when they got there, but there are no sprinklers in the building. Because of when it was built, the building legally doesn't need any.
Authorities are not yet sure how the fire started but they do know it worked its way up from the second floor.
"There was about a 20-mile-an-hour wind blowing down here this morning," Calvi said. "The rear windows on the second floor failed from the fire damage. Once the windows failed, the wind drove that fire right from the second floor."
In addition to the injured, between 60 to 80 people were displaced by the fire, officials said. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said city officials are working on providing resources to those displaced by the fire.
Video from the scene shows smoke billowing from the building. Firefighters said frigid temperatures on Sunday morning hampered their efforts, making the area surrounding the fire icy as crews worked to knock down the blaze.
Fire investigators were on scene until 9 p.m. Sunday and will return Monday morning.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by Springfield firefighters, the State Fire Marshall's office and state police.