Fire kills Ala. man in home filled with debris

AP News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2009 4:14 PM

Officials in Alabama say an elderly man who died in a fire at his home wasn't able to get out because of piles of paper, magazines and other items that were as much as 6 feet high.

Steve Huffman, a spokesman for Mobile's fire department, says 87-year-old Walter L. Allen's house and yard were so covered with refuse that some neighbors believed the property was a junk yard.

The same piles of debris that prevented Allen's escape Tuesday night also made it hard for firefighters to enter the home to extinguish the blaze.

Huffman says firefighters were tripping over things just trying to get in.

Authorities did not immediately determine a cause of the fire, but it appeared accidental. Huffman says the man apparently died of smoke inhalation.