AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) - An off-campus fire in Boston killed one college student and injured 15 people early Sunday morning.
Boston University identified the victim as senior Binland Lee. She would have graduated this year with a degree in marine biology. And although the fire happened 90 miles away in Allston, it hit home for some UMass students.
"I'm really horrified because I'm from Boston myself and I have friends who go to Boston University. I hope this can be prevented," said UMass freshman, Abdullahi Ali.
Ali joined his friends for lunch on Monday. UMass Freshman Bright Osajie was among the group who told 22News fire safety is something they don't think about often.
"I know myself don't think about fire safety all the time, it's not something that's in the front of my head," said Osajie on Monday morning.
Campus FireWatch Publisher Ed Comeau follows up on deadly fires and was in Boston on Monday morning.
"What happened, according to the fire department, is when the first captain got there they went through the front door expecting to find a stairwell to go up and there was no stairwell," said Comeau in Northampton on Monday. "What they had to do was go around the outside and the back of the apartment and go up an exterior stairwell to gain access to the second floor," Comeau said.
There are reports that 15 people lived in the home. But according to a property listing, the Linden Street house only has seven bedrooms. Fire officials say the victim was found in the attic.
"It's really important in any fire to have two ways out. The victim was found in the third floor apartment which had only interior access to a stairwell, they didn't have a second means of egress," said Comeau.
The fire also brings up the issue of overcrowding student rentals, which many say is common in Amherst.
"To be honest, rent is pretty expensive around here so especially for a college kid. College is expensive enough. So to fork over like $600 a month for rent. So, of course they try to squeeze in as many as they can to make rent cheaper," said CJ Gheringhelli, a UMass junior.
Comeau says the number of exits a property must have depends on the type of occupancy and the number of people living in the property. He says there is no clear-cut answer, something that will be a point of discussion during the investigation.
Regardless, Comeau says when apartment hunting this summer students should always make sure there are two ways out; even if that means a window.
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