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'Worst Nightmare': Crews Battle Blaze At Greensburg Home With Hoarding Conditions

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) - Greensburg's fire chief says a house fire they faced over the weekend was a nightmare. Investigators say the home was filled with items, making a bad situation worse for firefighters.

Greensburg firefighters say when they arrived on the scene at a house on Marsh Street, they were dealing with an incredible fire. There were massive flames and a lot of stuff inside that firefighters had to contend with.

Video shows just how heavy the flames were when Greensburg Fire Chief Thomas Bell rolled on scene. The back of the home was aglow and flames were spreading to nearby buildings.

"We could have been rocking. Further down, there's a large garage next to this home that goes for half a block," said Bell.

Quick work by crews kept that from happening, however.

"Somebody had told me there was somebody still inside the building," said Bell.

Chief Bell sent crews inside to try to find that person. Not long after, Bell got word from inside that finding anyone was going to be impossible.

"Hoarding conditions, they're up to their elbows, small pathways like quicksand. They can't get through things, it's very difficult to move," he said. "The worst nightmare they teach you about is hoarding conditions."

Then came word the occupants had already made it out, but the fire was not out -- not even close. Eventually, firefighters did get it under control and all that was left was burnt wood, ashes and a lot of questions.

"My first thought was they must have had a fire pit going but looking at it after sifting through things, there was no sign of any fire pit there or any kind of cooking device perse," said Bell.

Those living in the home told investigators they didn't have a fire pit and the back deck had no utilities running to it. So as for what possibly sparked the fire, investigators are not ruling anything out yet.

"Fires are always suspicious until proven otherwise," said Bell.

Chief Bell says regardless of the cause, "This is a fire that we're lucky. This could have gone south quickly. Someone could have been killed here, no doubt about it."

The people living in the home are now staying with family. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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