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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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danielle cooper January 22, 2013 at 04:09 PM
I'm so sorry for the Hoffman's loss , my thoughts and prayers are with there family . Xo
Shulie January 22, 2013 at 04:39 PM
We didn't know Jake but we are mourning with his family. My son is a good friend of his from UMASS Amherst and is devastated at the loss of his good friend. I saw my son's photos of Jake's on FB.Jake lights up the screen with his smile. We cannot imagine his parents, siblings and family's anguish. We too cannot stop crying.
Kevin Thompson January 22, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Through sports and high school hallways I always appreciated Jake as a genuine acquaintance, but he's the type of person where there is no line, every body was his friend. He greeted all with open arms and smiles all the time. Nothing but good to say about him. My deepest apologies to his mother, father, sister and brother. Keep strong guys. And to all of his close friends from highschool soccer and baseball teammates, to college friends and beyond, keep up. He really was a great person, sorry guys.
Jimmy Derochea January 22, 2013 at 05:10 PM
As a community, we have had our share of grief lately that has included the tragic passing of both Shayla Lutz & David Wade. The outpouring of support was swift, incredible & inspiring. I am proud to be a part of this community; how we pull together at times of crisis & need. Now today, we mourn the loss of yet another of our own, Jake Hoffman, taken from us much too young. A young man who I had the privilege of knowing well & whose family I consider friends. Jake's smile is legendary & was rarely hidden. He was a great kid, classy & respectful, a true reflection of his parents, David & Anne. The Hoffman’s are a very close-knit, loving family, who have given so much to Stoughton. They have been there for "us" for so many years, whether volunteering in youth sports or in our schools/PTO's & now, no doubt we will be there for them, we ARE there for them! The Stoughton community will rise again, above politics, cultural, religious or financial differences, to come together as a community - Because that is who we are! Pope John Paul II once said, “A community needs a soul if it is to become a true home for human beings. You, the people, must give it this soul.” To wit, the Stoughton community has proven time & time again that it’s soul is deep, loving & caring & is indeed a true home to all who live within. Proud! God Bless David, Anne, Nicole, Riordan & all of their extended family & friends & may their loving son & brother, Jake, live in eternal peace!
Evelyn St.Germain January 22, 2013 at 09:36 PM
I wish I had words to lighten your agony but sometimes words are just not enough. Please accept my deepest condolences on your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Patricia Dexter January 22, 2013 at 10:47 PM
So very sorry for your loss Mr.& Mrs. Hoffman. I work at Andy's Market and it was always a pleasure to talk with Jake. Such a polite and fun loving kid. My heart goes out to your family. Jake will be in my prayers and so will all of you. Pat Dexter
M. Bernstein January 23, 2013 at 12:42 AM
Jake was my very first soccer player I met at Stoughton HS in 2006 when coaching the Junior Varsity Soccer Team. He was the first student player to introduce himself to me. I knew right away there was something about this kid. I can remember sunday practices with the boys and Jake being their each and every sunday 8am with a ton of jokes never did anything but smile. He was a strong defensive back on the field, but really had every and all opportunity for him off the field. I instantly knew he was a devoted kid with great determination. He became one of my captains in 2006 and stayed a captain throughout his varsity career. He without question was an all around kid that all coaches would have been lucky to have had on their team. I am so saddened by the news of Jake and his number 4 jersey will always be remembered. Rest in Peace and my prayers are with all the Hoffmans. Coach Matt Bernstein
Gail Boyer January 23, 2013 at 01:35 PM
Our family had the pleasure of meeting Jake through our son Chris who lived with Jake in the Sylvan Suites at UMASS and again last year at the Alpine apartments. Our deepest sympathy goes to his parents, siblings, extended family and all the many friends that join us in mourning this loss. Although we met Jake just a few times, we grew to know Jake through our son who in just 2 years has been so greatly touched by a great life. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. “Those that touch your lives don’t go away; they walk besides you every day”. Gail & Keith Boyer, Eastchester, NY
Shulie January 23, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Fairfax, VA
Adam Wilson January 23, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Jake was a solid player, I played three years with the kid and he always had an amazing attitude and nothin but smiles. It's hard to see his picture and realize hes gone..My sincerest love and condolences to Anne, Dave, Nichole and Riordan. -Adam Wilson
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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