Fire crews battling a two-alarm fire in the Manchester section of Pittsburghs North Side early Tuesday morning said the clutter belonging to some homeowners may have made it more difficult to fight the flames.
The fire broke out inside a row house in the 1500 block of Chateau Street at about 3:30 a.m.
Channel 4 Action News reporter Janelle Hall was at the scene shortly after and said fire crews were not able to contain the flames right away. The fire moved into the building's roof and then spread to some of the neighboring row homes.
"It was blazing. I mean, you couldn't see anything but like fire and smoke. And I was really upset because I didn't know where they were. But, thank God, like I said, they were safe and sound. But that was my concern. Not so much about the home, but about them, being that they're an elderly couple," said Pamela Davis, who is related to the fire victims.
"I just thank God, something, the Holy Spirit or something woke me up because we would have been toast," said Daphnie Milam.
The fire started in Milam's basement. Firefighters said getting everyone out safety and fighting the fire was made more difficult because of what was inside the house.
"The folks that lived there were, like, hoarders. And they had a very difficult time getting around in the building. Plus there was a significantly larger fire load than we normally find in a person's house," said Deputy Fire Chief Frank Large.
However, Milam told Channel 4 Action News that she's not a hoarder. She said the belongings that burned included things she stored for her church and sewing material for a start-up business.
"The thing about us is, when you're poor and you don't have any money, you start to do something and then you have to stop," said Milam.
Firefighters said some doors and hallways in Milam's home were blocked which they said can be a serious fire hazard.
Eleven people in total had to evacuated because of the fire, Hall reported. No serious injuries were reported.
The fire did affect traffic on Route 65 on Tuesday morning.
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