We are a community of approx 25000 and are a 50 member all volunteer fire dept. Our homes are higher end and our residents are predominately professionals. On 11-22-06 at approx 8 am the dispatcher received a 911 ring down call reporting a kitchen fire and the resident dropped the phone leaving the dispatcher listening to rustling sounds and crackling of fire noises. Luckily the 911 system provided the address and he promptly dispatched us. 2 chiefs were in the area and arrived shortly along with 1 police officer finding a normal home with the yard manicured and void of leaves. The front porch furniture was clean and perfectly placed. There was a smell of smoke and soon smoke was showing from eaves. The asst chief banging on the front door could hear residents inside and told them to open the door. The replied that the front door doesn’t open the only entry was in the rear basement. The 3 men opened the basement door and the instantly knew why the front door would not open there was an incredible amount of stuff stacked to the ceiling, on the stairs and in the garage. The travel up the stairs was so difficult that the stuff had to be removed to get to the door at the top. The door would only open enough to see that the stuff on the kitchen side was preventing the door from opening. The door was kicked into pieces and entry was made to the kitchen. The dep. chief found the fire on the stove, on the floor and on the counter was small and involved all this stuff. He proceeded past the fire to search for the 2 remaining residents that were found in rear bedroom and a bath. Since all exits were blocked by the piles of clutter and stuff he had to return back past the fire to the basement stairs. At this time the smoke level was about waist high and the fire had grown. the deputy chief now thought that he may be trapped but made it past the fire with the residents (close call) After the fire was controlled and the scene evaluated I (Chief) requested the fire marshal, community development director and the building inspector to the scene in an effort to prevent this home from being occupied in this condition. They also notified health and human services to the scene.
“These conditions don’t exist in our town” we were close to losing 2 residents and a deputy chief because of a cluttered home to the point of blocked exits
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover surely equates to don’t judge a home by its exterior looks.
2. Don’t hesitate to get other agencies involved to rectify dangerous situations