SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Hampden County District Attorney’s Office has identified the man and young children who died in Sunday’s fire on Belmont Avenue in Springfield Sunday.
According to Hampden DA spokesman Jim Leydon, Aden Abdakadr, 2-year-old Ahmed Ahmed, and 1-year-old Fatumo Ahmed were killed in the fire.
Leyden said it is believed that Abdakadr is the father of the two children who died.
With the fire out, the painstaking process of rebuilding lives begins. About 40 people are now homeless. They are staying in hotels and with relatives.
“We try to encourage people to stay with family and friends for the emotional support,” Mary Nathan of the Red Cross of Western Massachusetts said. “When that is not possible we do look at using hotels and if it is a large fire we sometimes have to look at opening a community shelter. This time we were very close to that.”
The American Red Cross is partnering with city officials and resettlement Agency Jewish Family Services. Many of the victims were Somalian refugees.
“Escaping poverty and trying to escape what they are going through in their country and then coming here and going through this,” said Janice Torres, who lives in the Belmont Avenue neighborhood. “Its got to be tough.”
Whitman Properties manages the apartment building. They told 22News the building inspector determined it was still structurally safe so they plan to reopen 12 units for families to move back into.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno issued a statement to 22News saying:
I am heartened, but not surprised by the outpouring of support that continues to come in the aftermath of the tragic fire at 49 Belmont Ave. – we’ve always been a very caring city. Special thanks goes out to all our city departments, especially Fire Commissioner BJ Calvi’s ‘hands on’ approach, state public safety officials, the American Red Cross, PVTA, First Student, South End Citizens Council, Paul Picknelly of Hilton Garden Inn, neighborhood residents especially Judy Arrington, Maxine Stein and Deirdre Griffin of Jewish Family Service, Fire and Police Chaplains Rev. Cofield and Father Hamilton, and property ownership and management. When we called, they were there. A very special thanks goes out to my friend Imam Wissam Abdul Baki and his team, who when I called came on our site to play an important and pivotal role, not only in facilitating communication with all the involved families, but just as important allowing us to respect Muslim culture and traditions. In turn, my administration announces that Jewish Family Service has been named to accept any and all donations to aid all the families in their time of need. I appreciate their being our conduit. Again, my thoughts and prayers of sympathy and encouragement go out to all the affected families. We will continue to stand with you and by you in your time of need. God Bless.”
The four story apartment has 20 units with one and two bedrooms. The building was not required to have a fire suppression sprinkler system, but it did have a central alarm system.
“There is a public safety message that is important for everybody to hear and that is make sure you are testing and checking your smoke alarms,” said Anthony Witman, president of Whitman Properties. “Make sure that your egresses are clear to get out. When there is a fire you only have seconds, not minutes to escape.”
We know the fire started on the second floor, but the state fire marshal has still not made a determination of the exact cause of the fire.
Springfield fire and police departments are still looking into the cause of the fire, along with Massachusetts State Police assigned to the State Fire Marshal’s and Hampden DA’s Offices.If you’re looking to donate,
- Checks can be made out to JFSWM (Jewish Family Service of Western MA) with FIRE in the memo line and sent directly to JFSWM at 15 Lenox St., Springfield, MA 01108. Or, they can be sent to Brian Bedore at TD Bank 561, Sumner Ave, Springfield MA 01108.
- Household items (brand new only) can be dropped off at JFSWM at 15 Lenox St., Springfield, MA 01108. Families are in need of bed pillows, twin sheets, queen sheets, bath and hand towels, twin comforters, queen comforters, pots and pans, paper towels and bathroom items including toilet paper, shampoo, bar soap, toothpaste and brushes