EDGEWATER, Colo. (CBS4) – Firefighters say a hoarder is at fault for making it much more difficult to fight a fire on Sunday at a condo building than it should have been.

The fire started late in the morning in a unit at the building at 2890 Harlan Street. Twenty four people were forced to evacuate and 20 units were damaged. Two were completely destroyed.

Wheat Ridge Fire Chief Steven Gillespie said boxes of junk, old furniture, a television and a dilapidated truck were all obstacles that hindered crews in the unit where the fire started.

“For the first several minutes the crews spent time instead of fighting the fire removing the debris from the inside to the outside,” Gillespie said.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

During that time the fire was able to grow, with the flames spreading into walls and the ceilings.

No one was hurt in the blaze, although some people were apparently trapped for a short time.

Levon Brown lives in the complex and said he rescued an elderly woman who lives next to the hoarder’s unit.

“It was right behind her. There was tons of stuff in that apartment,” Brown said.

Carmen Castellano had just moved in. The 20-year-old escaped with her cat, but not much else. She said she thinks she lost everything.

“Everything I paid for on my own and now it’s all down the drain,” she said.

Gillespie said they have run into more fires recently where the stashes of a hoarder cause problems for fire crews.

“Had this been a normal situation — a normal house with normal means to travel within the property — our firefighters could have very realistically gotten in, put the fire out, and the fire would have been contained to the point of origin and none of this would have taken place,” Gillespie said.

CBS4 contacted the building’s management company and inquired if any action had been taken to address the amount of materials that were being kept in the unit where the fire started. They had no comment.


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