Holyoke, MA Apartment House Fire, Nov 1964


Holyoke, Mass. (UPI) -- A key arson suspect in the apartment house fire Wednesday night that killed seven persons, including five children, was to be requestioned today by police.
Authorities labeled the man "the most likely suspect yet." He was questioned several times Thursday but no arrests have been made.
Fire Chief William W. Mahoney said the blaze
"definitely was the work of an arsonist. There is no doubt in the world. This is arson. It's horrible."
The tragic tenement fire was the third blaze deliberately set in the neighborhood within 15 minutes of each other. Investigators found several empty gasoline cans near the fire scene.
A week ago fire officials warned of an arsonist being loose in this Connecticut Valley industrial city. There had been several suspicious garage and barn fires.
The suspect was picked up on information provided by a woman who lives across from the burned building. She told police she looked out her window when she heard sirens.
She said she saw a man getting out of a red car. He appeared to be trying to hide a five gallon gasoline car, she said.
The prime suspect was one of several men questioned after officials interviewed more than 100 survivors of the blaze and nearby residents.
The fire was discovered by firemen answering an alarm for a blaze of another five-story brick apartment building on nearby East Dwight Street.
Forty persons fled that fire which heavily damaged
the first three floors.
Both buildings were owned by Edgar Bouchard, a grocery store owner and a former public works commissioner, who was on vacation in Florida.
Those killed in the fire were identified as LEO ROBERGE, 10, and his 7 year old brother EDWARD, JR.; MRS. ANITA DUPONT, 52, her daughter, PAULINE, 20, and PAULINE'S two children, MAURICE, 4, and RONALD, 3; and MARY ANN PRONOVOST, 9, MRS. DUPONT'S granddaughter.
Admitted to Holyoke Hospital were EDWARD ROBERGE, SR., 53, his wife NORRIS, 43, their daughter, BARBARA, 16, their 3-year-old son GERALD, and GERALD PRONOVOST, 3.
The PRONOVOST boy was in poor condition and MRS. ROBERGE was in fair condition. The others were in good condition.
Robert C. Brooks, 21, of South Hadley Falls, a volunteer rescue worker, said a first floor tenant told him of hearing someone in the basement before the fire broke out.
Brooks said a resident told him he heard someone puttering around in the cellar. When the tenant called to the man, "the other said 'To hell with it,' and ran out the cellar door," the man told Brooks.
Mahoney said the fire started on the second floor, rear porch and swept rapidly through the building.
Those who died were trapped on the top three floors.

Bennington Banner Vermont 1964-11-13


Holyoke Fire

I think of Leo (poncho)all the time have all my life I think of what he may have become so many of us that were friends than are now gone.

My 2 brothers died in this

My 2 brothers died in this fire

I was also friends with Mary

I was also friends with Mary Ann. I lived on the 3rd floor of that building until July 1964 when we moved to our home in South Hadley. Mary Ann lived on the 5th floor. with here grandmother and grandfather.

1964 fire at 208 west Street in Holyoke Massachusetts

My family and I lived in that building at 208 west street until we moved to our new home in South Hadley in July 1964, I was 10 at the time. I was good friends with Leo Roberge. Leo (poncho) as he was known as by family and friends would stay at our new home in South Hadley on weekends up until the time of his death in November of that year. My brother and I carried them to there resting place on the day of there funeral. They now rest in the cemetery on our street in South Hadley. My parents also took care of the Pronovost children in our home while the parents were at the hospital sitting with there youngest son Gerald. All our old friends and neighbors that were victims of that fire now rest not far from each other in the cemetery on our street. I am now 60 years old and still to this day think of all of them. May god bless and keep them.

Mary Ann

Mary Ann and I went to school together at Immaculate Conception in Holyoke. I think of her often.

maryann pronovost 9

maryann was a cuz of mine she was staying with her grammie and grampa when the fire broke out all her other siplings and mom where living at the ponds. they drove over right away when they heard. it was very sad losing her and her grandparents...

Holyoke Apartment Fire

I went to school and was a friend of Mary Ann Pronovost, 9, who died in this fire. I think about her often and keep her and her family in my prayers.