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2 Elderly Men Killed In SF House Fire, Hoarding May Have Played Role

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - Two elderly men died in a fire early Friday morning that started in a bedroom of a home in San Francisco's Excelsior District that was apparently filled with a large amount of debris, fire officials and neighbors said.

The fire was reported at 3:34 a.m. at the two-story home at 171 Vienna St.

Both men died in separate bedrooms on the second floor of the house and it was a challenge getting the bodies out because of the large amount of clutter, Acting Battalion Chief Franco Calzolai said.

"They appeared to be hoarders," Calzolai said.

He said the debris acted as a fuel for the fire, which was eventually extinguished at 4:11 a.m.

Deputy Chief of Operations Mark Gonzales said a neighboring home did not sustain any damage in the blaze.

There were no injuries to firefighters, he said.

KCBS' Margie Shafer Reports:

Much of the debris, including charred furniture, pots, pans, old newspapers and other detritus, was piled in front of the driveway as firefighters investigated and cleaned up the scene.

Gonzales said firefighters initially thought the fire had spread to the outside of the home, however it was determined debris and possessions piled near the bedroom windows had blown outside, burning part of the exterior.

One bedroom sustained smoke damage, where one of the residents had succumbed to smoke inhalation, Gonzales said.

Andy Batan, 77, who lives across the street, said the two men who died were elderly and had lived there for at least 20 years.

"They kept to themselves," Batan said.

He said one of the men was in a wheelchair and that the owner of the home also owned the lot next door, an overgrown garden.

The San Francisco medical examiner's office is not releasing the names of the deceased men until family members have been notified.

Fire officials said the cause of the blaze remains under investigation but it is not considered suspicious.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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