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UPDATE: Firefighters Warn about Clutter after Elderly Man Dies in Fire

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email
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UPDATE 4/1/13 @ 6:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – After an elderly man died in a house fire in Huntington during the weekend, firefighters are warning about a hazard many of us have in our own homes: clutter.

Huntington firefighters had to break second-floor windows to get inside the Madison Avenue home Saturday morning to save 87-year-old Joseph Martin. Upstairs rooms filled with storage and clutter made that more difficult.

Homeowner Greg Martin, whose father died on Saturday at Cabell-Huntington Hospital, said he uses a couple rooms in his home for storage, rather than paying for a storage unit.

“I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined this ever happening,” Martin said.

Martin said the doors of those rooms were kept shut and locked, and he and his father rarely went into them. But in the case of a fire, firefighters have to check everywhere to see if someone is in danger.

"We have to search all rooms, not just the rooms someone thinks we would normally check,” Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said.

Eastham said clutter didn’t cause the fire. It was accidental – caused by an overloaded extension cord that caught a couch on fire on the first floor.

But, he said, the clutter made it more difficult and dangerous for his firefighters to battle the fire.

"You try to open up doors and they will not open,” Eastham said. “Or you open them up and there’s just a very limited amount of room to get in to be able to look."

The problem is a concern for many people, like Martin, who use rooms in their home for storage. But it’s even worse when it goes to extremes. Eastham said hoarder houses and abandoned homes are another issue. While the fire department can’t control what people do in their own homes, hoarding and clutter can cause problems for neighbors in addition to homeowners.

“If your neighbor is hoarding or has a vast amount of clutter, it becomes dangerous to you from the exposure, should their house catch on fire,” Eastham said. “It becomes very difficult for us to put the fire out under normal conditions."

Martin said he hopes people think about emergencies when they decide to use rooms in their home for storage.

"I pray that this doesn't happen to anyone else,” Martin said, adding that he is grateful for the firefighters’ work at the fire.

Eastham said there were working smoke detectors in the house when it caught fire.



UPDATE 4/1/13 @ 10:30 a.m.
HUNTINGTON W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Huntington Fire Chief tells WSAZ.com that an extension cord that ran under a couch was the likely cause of a fire that killed an elderly man on Saturday

Firefighters were called to 975 Madison Avenue about 10:45 a.m.

Chief Carl Eastham said 87-year-old Joseph Martin was found unconscious, outside his bedroom in the hallway on the second floor.

Martin was taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital, where he died a short time later.

Firefighters said Martin died of smoke inhalation.

Eastham also said that clutter on the porch and inside the home made it difficult for firefighters to get inside and find Martin.



UPDATE: 4/1/13 @ 12:22 a.m.
HUNTINGTON W.Va. (WSAZ) -- We now know the name of the man who died after an early morning house fire Saturday.

Firefighters say Joseph Martin died of smoke inhalation.

Flames broke out at Martin's home along Madison Avenue on Huntington's West End.

Firefighters rescued Martin who they say was trapped on the second floor but he later died at the hospital. Several dogs did not make it out.

Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause.

Martin was 87-years-old.

Keep clicking WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 3/30/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An elderly man has died after firefighters rushed in to rescue him from a house fire on Huntington's West End Saturday morning.

Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said firefighters found the 88-year-old man in the second-floor hallway outside his bedroom. He was unconscious. Cabell County EMS took him to Cabell-Huntington Hospital, where he died a short time later.

Firefighters arrived to the house at 975 Madison Avenue after they got a call around 10:45 a.m.

Neighbors said they heard commotion outside and came out to see what was happening.

"I was asleep on my couch and all I heard was a bunch of people yelling, 'Oh Lord, you know, help them,'" Jacob Collins, a neighbor, said. "I just came running out of my house and flames were shooting from underneath the bottom of it."

Eastham said his department was investigating the cause of the fire. He said that the elderly man, who was receiving home health care, had oxygen tanks in the home.

"Every time we go into a structure fire like this, those are the unknowns that you do not know anything about," Eastham said of their concern about the oxygen tanks. "It's something you train for."

Eastham also said that clutter on the porch and inside the home made it difficult for his firefighters to get inside and find the man.

One firefighter was severely burned while battling the fire.

Several dogs also died in the fire, although there is no word on how many there were.

No word yet on what injuries caused the man's death.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 3/30/13 @ 2:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An elderly man has died after firefighters rescued him from a house on fire in Huntington.

Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said firefighters found the 88-year-old man in the hallway outside his bedroom. The unconscious man was taken to the hospital, where he died.

Firefighters arrived to the house at 975 Madison Avenue on Huntington's West End after they got a call around 10:45 a.m.

Eastham said his department was investigating the cause of the fire. He noted that the elderly man was under home health care and had oxygen tanks in the home.

One firefighter was hurt on the scene.

Several dogs also died in the fire.

No word yet on what injuries caused the man's death.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 3/30/13 @ 12:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An elderly man has been taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital after firefighters rescued him from inside a house on fire.

Firefighters arrived to the house at 975 Madison Avenue on Huntington's West End after they got a call around 10:45 a.m.

Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said his firefighters found the 88-year-old man in the hallway outside of his bedroom. The man was unconscious when firefighters wheeled him out on a stretcher and took him to the hospital.

Eastham said his department was investigating the cause of the fire. He noted that the elderly man was under home health care and had oxygen tanks in the home.

One firefighter was hurt while on the scene, according to the Chief, who said the firefighter was burned. He is expected to be okay.

Several dogs also died in the fire.

No word yet on the elderly man's condition.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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