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Heavy fire in Presidential Apartments leaves tenants displaced

A heavy fire broke out at the Presidential Apartments in Amherst Saturday night causing severe damage, and though no one was injured, tenants from four apartment units have been displaced since.

Town firefighters responded to multiple emergency calls just before 10 p.m Saturday and found smoke seeping out of unit 54 on the first floor into the hallway and neighboring apartments.

After forcing entry into the unit, firefighters found the source of the flames to be a couch in the living room, said Assistant Fire Chief James Johnson. The fire was extinguished within 15 minutes, Johnson said; but officials also needed to force entry into three other apartments to check for occupants.

The tenants were not home at the time of the fire but returned momentarily after. Officials did not release the names of the residents and did not know whether they were University of Massachusetts students. The complex, located along North Pleasant Street, is less than a mile from the Northeast Residential area of campus and often home to students and visiting professors.

The apartment sustained severe smoke and heat damage. The outer hallway, stairwell and  neighboring apartments also suffered minor damages.

A town building inspector assessed the damages Sunday and declared that half of the building – four apartments – remain unoccupied, for reasons including the smoke detectors in the outer hallway needing to be changed. Until further notice, the tenants affected by the inspector’s decision are displaced.

The apartment complex is owned by Kamins Real Estate. According to the real estate company’s website the Presidential Apartments are “the most asked about location we manage.”

 When asked when the residents will be allowed to return to their respective homes, owner Patrick Kamins declined to comment.

 Michelle Williams can be reached for comment at mnwillia@student.umass.edu

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