Firefighters Battled 'High-Hoarding' Conditions In The HomeBy Heather Abraham

PENN HILLS (KDKA)- A woman was rescued from a burning home in Penn Hills late Sunday night.

The fire started a little after 11 p.m. at a home in the 11000-block of Azalea Drive.

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“So, I came outside and the roof next door was engulfed in flames,” said neighbor Tionna Bradshaw. “I told my boyfriend and he went next door, opened up the door and brought the lady out.”

But it wasn’t easy. That man went into the home with a Penn Hills police officer.

They heard the 87-year-old woman screaming and tried to navigate upstairs through the smoke and extreme hoarding conditions.

“They went back to where the bedroom was and they found her still laying on the bed, crying for help. They carried her outside through pathways because of all the junk,” Penn Hills Fire Marshal Chuck Miller said.

The victim, who uses a wheelchair to get around, was taken to a local hospital for treatment. Officials say she is expected to recover.

The fire doesn’t appear to be suspicious at this time, but firefighters had a challenge getting inside.

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“Firefighting efforts were a little tough to say the least,” said Penn Hills No. 7 VFC Chief Bill Jeffcoat. “It was due to high hoarding in there, literally up to your shoulder in certain spots.”

And this wasn’t the first time Jeffcoat and his firefighters have dealt with this house.

“This house has been known to us for some time. Our code enforcement had flagged it for hoarding. She said she would fix it, well over a year later it hasn’t been fixed. It was a life-safety situation not only for the homeowner, but for our firefighters,” Jeffcoat said.

The house did not have power, and candles may have been used for light.

“They were using candles for lighting at night,” said Fire Marshal Chuck Miller.  He believes a cat possibly knocked over a lit candle in another bedroom. Two cats were able to escape safely.

The woman’s son and his fiancé just moved in last month to try and help her get the hoarding under control.  The son was not home at the time of the fire.

Officials are waiting to hear back about home insurance, but said the house will be torn down.

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Heather Abraham