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ABOUT TOWN: Stoughton College Student Dies in Amherst Apartment Fire

UMass Amherst student Jake Hoffman, of Stoughton, died in a fire early Monday morning at an off-campus apartment building in Amherst, according to friends of the family.

STOUGHTON RESIDENT DIES IN AMHERST FIRE: About Town is in deep mourning after learning of the tragic death of 21-year-old Stoughton resident Jake Hoffman in an off-campus apartment fire in Amherst early Monday morning. Hoffman was a student at nearby UMass Amherst.

Initially, officials did not release the identity of the lone victim in the Jan. 21 blaze, which also left 32 homeless, according to The Republican of Springfield. However, friends of the family confirmed Hoffman was the victim by Monday evening.

And by Tuesday afternoon, Jan. 22, Hoffman had been officially identified as the victim, Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson told the Republican.

Hoffman, who graduated Stoughton High School in 2009 with my son Dan, was an amazing kid. He was athletic, charming, handsome and was extremely popular with his peers, as well as their parents.

He leaves behind his parents, Dave and Anne, his sister Nichole, and his brother Riordan (click here to read his obituary).

I can't say enough good things about him. He was always amazingly friendly, with a big smile on his face. His friends that he left behind are stunned and emotionally distraught.  

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the fire was reported at the Rolling Green apartment complex in Amherst at about 4:45 a.m. Jan. 21. Officials said the apartment housed about 32 people, including 22 UMass students. 

The three-alarm fire caused severe damage to the building. Upon arrival, crews could see heavy fire coming from the second floor and the attic, according to FOX 25.

Coan said the fire appears to have started in the unit where Hoffman was discovered. He said the blaze remains under investigation.  

Hoffman's death comes only a few months after the tragic death of David Wade, a senior at Stoughton High, who was accidentally shot on September 29, 2012, and Shayla Lutz, a three-year-old killed by a truck on Central Street, in front of the Hansen School on September 14, 2012.  

I can't tell you how terrible I feel for Dave and Anne, and their entire family, and for Jake's thousands of friends, scattered at colleges throughout the country. A fine young man was lost. I can't stop crying. 

We'll post the arrangements, when available (click here for full details). I'll have an upcoming piece with reminisces of his friends, teachers, and administrators who knew him. May he Rest in Peace.

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Barry Crimmins January 23, 2013 at 05:45 PM
Well said Jim! We will once again come together as a community to support one of our families in their time of need, as we always have done!
Snyder's Stoughton January 23, 2013 at 09:54 PM
The Wake for Jake Hoffman is Friday night from 3-7 p.m. at Farley Funeral Home. Get there early, if you can. The Funeral is Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. James Church. I still can't believe it is reality. Sad beyond words. http://hosting-24119.tributes.com/show/James-E.-Jake-Hoffman-95117193
Marissa January 24, 2013 at 02:20 PM
Dave, Anne, Nichole and Riordan, Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. My sincere sympathy - Marissa (Mt Auburn)
John Forger January 24, 2013 at 04:16 PM
May the good lord bless our Jake Hoffman and his family,,,,Love John and Joan Forger
Sam January 24, 2013 at 10:12 PM
I worked with Jake at the UMass Berkshire Dining Commons. Jake was really the nicest kid and had the biggest smile, everywhere I saw him, whether in the dish room, passing in the library, or in our shared hospitality class. We exchanged phone numbers the last day of the fall semester and were planning to hang out this spring. I will always remember Jake's great attitude and huge, friendly smile. I am glad I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Jake, only wishing I had known him longer. My condolences to Jake's close friends and family.

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