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

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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.

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...

Mary Ann

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