Firefighters: Hoarding to blame for Phoenix fire - CBS 5 - KPHO

UPDATE

Firefighters: Hoarding to blame for Phoenix fire

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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

For the second consecutive day, hoarders are being blamed for a destructive fire in the Valley.

Phoenix firefighters said the fire broke out just before 8 a.m. Wednesday in a storage unit next to a decrepit house. The fire was so intense that additional fire units were called.

Firefighters said the storage unit, the house and a nearby mobile home were in the area of Cave Creek Road and 21st Street. The structures had water, but no electricity connected, and part of the home's roof was missing. They said the storage unit was packed full of various and flammable items.

"I'm speechless, really. I can't believe it's all gone," said Joan Schroder, who lived in the mobile home.

Schroder said she had just finished hanging up laundry back to the trailer when she heard an explosion and saw "black, black smoke and fire."

The 9,000-square-foot storage unit was on fire. Inside were antiques from various estate sales, as well as "propane tanks and paint and some chemicals," Schroder said.

"There were some explosions after we pulled up," said Battalion Chief Jim Arbagey of the Phoenix Fire Department. "We had reports of explosions prior to the crews' arrival."

Firefighters said the house on the property was not livable. It was missing part of its roof, though firefighters were able to contain the fire to the adjacent storage building.

But Schroder said there's another reason she chose to live in the trailer rather than the home.

"There's ghosts, you know? They get attached to these things and, yeah, they're in the house."

Fire crews say all the stuff stored on the property made fighting the fire extremely difficult.

"There's just a lot of stuff underneath this that just makes it real difficult," Arbagey said. "There's a lot of debris, a lot of metal. It's dangerous for them to work around."

But crews said the call was a success for one simple reason: "Nobody was hurt," Arbagey said.

Firefighters had to battle more than flames during a fire at a hoarder's home in Tempe near Mill Avenue and University Drive on Tuesday morning.

Aluminum cans stacked more than 2 feet high and newspapers stacked to the ceiling forced firefighters to evacuate the home during their initial attack on the fire, said Michael J. Reichling, of the Tempe Fire Department.

The owner was not inside during the fire, which was called in just after 12:30 a.m., Reichling said.

The initial cause of the fire was a space heater the owner said he had left it on in the living room area, Reichling said.

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