Cluttered home hampers firefighter efforts

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Updated: .
A home filled with clutter posed a challenge for firefighters in Indianapolis on Friday.

Crews were called to the scene of a fire on W. 33rd St. late Friday morning. The 66-year-old homeowner told firefighters she was sitting on her front porch with her five-week-old Yorkie, named Tara, when she noticed smoke coming from the house.

When the homeowner opened the front door, she saw flames moving up the interior wall. She made it out safely and called 911.

However, firefighters had trouble getting inside the home because of all the clutter inside. They had to remove piles of debris in order to enter, and their search efforts were slowed down by all the clutter, which was piled several feet high.

Firefighters found a full-size refrigerator blocking a doorway. Crews say if someone had been inside during the fire, it would have been difficult to escape due to all the debris and the refrigerator blocking the doorway. The home also did not have working smoke detectors.

IFD made this comment:

"Indianapolis firefighters would like to encourage everyone to be aware of any family member, friend or neighbor who might be living in this type of excessive clutter situation. These types of conditions pose not only a serious safety threat to those who live there but a serious hazard to firefighters trying to effect an attack or rescue. The Marion County Public Board of Health encourages you to call them at 317-221-2150 for more information or to report an unsanitary living condition. They have resources available to help mitigate this type of hazardous situation and are happy to give you information."

In all, 11 IFD units responded and had the fire under control in 15 minutes. Damage is estimated at $20,000 and the cause has been ruled as electrical.

The homeowner has lived there for 60 years and does not have insurance. The IFD Victims Assistance is working with the Red Cross to find her shelter.

The Marion County Public Health Department was also on the scene.

No injuries were reported.