Rolling Green fire victim identified as UMass student James Hoffman
Officials at the state medical examiner’s office have identified the University of Massachusetts student killed in a Monday morning fire at Rolling Green apartments as 21-year-old James Hoffman of Stoughton.
Hoffman, who was known as “Jake,” was studying hospitality and tourism management at UMass, according to the school’s directory.
“(It’s) just a terrible tragedy – to have lost a student’s life is a terrible event for the community,” UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said. “We feel terrible for this loss of life.”
Hoffman’s body was found on the second floor of unit 202, where he lived with two other roommates at the 422 Belchertown Road complex.
The three-alarm fire was reported about 4:45 a.m. Monday and quickly spread to adjacent units in the building, which hosted units 195 to 204. The apartments were heavily damaged, leaving about 30 residents – 22 of which are UMass students – homeless.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Blaguszewski said the University sent staff members out to Rolling Green a few hours after the fire began to identify which residents were UMass students.
Only one student had reached out to the University for housing as of Monday night, Blaguszewski said. Students in need of housing may be placed in any open residence hall or in the Campus Center hotel, he added.
A Rolling Green employee said Monday that she couldn’t say if all of the residents displaced would be relocated to other units in the complex.
The Red Cross arrived on the fire scene about 7 a.m. Monday and assisted tenants, including 20 adults and four children, throughout the day by providing food, temporary shelter and resources to purchase clothing, according to a press release sent out by the organization.
The University is offering affected students meal plan options and, depending on the situation, parking permits, Blaguszewski said.
He also said the University is working with faculty to make arrangements if students are unable to attend class.
Blaguszewski said the University will also be offering counseling programs. An emergency loan program, he said, is also being offered for those who may have lost clothing, computers and other items.
The University is working to set up a donation program for affected students, he added.
“I expect this week we will figure out the best way to do that,” he said.
Blaguszewski said donations may be for money, items or both.
“We want to make sure we reach out and say, ‘Let’s see what we can do to help you,’” Blaguszewski said. “One way or the other they will certainly be taken care of.”