82-Year-Old 'Hoarder' Killed in House Fire After Cluttered Home Bursts Into Flames
The 82-year-old woman was killed Monday evening after a fire broke out in her Queens, New York, home
An 82-year-old woman died in her New York home on Monday after a fire broke out and “heavy clutter” prevented rescue teams from reaching her in time, PEOPLE confirms.
A spokesperson for the New York City Fire Department says firefighters responded to the home on 252nd Street in Queens around 6:30 p.m. and found the house on fire. Officials did not reveal the victim’s identity.
The spokesperson described the woman as a hoarder, and said officials would likely have been able to rescue her if her home had not been so “cluttered.”
“Stuff was piled three to four feet high and throughout,” he tells PEOPLE. “It was normal household items that people might gather, newspapers, magazines … garbage that wasn’t discarded, blankets and bedding.”
According to ABC7, the blaze broke out on the first floor of the woman’s home.
It took fire crews nearly an hour to control the fire, and another FDNY spokesperson said eight firefighters were injured battling the blaze in “heavy clutter conditions.”
The initial spokesperson said the clutter likely fueled the fire and kept Hebling from getting out. They found the woman in the kitchen area of the home and officials pronounced her dead at the scene. Officials have ruled the fire an accident, determining that an extension cord started the blaze.
A neighbor, Abdeel Cyril, described the woman to the New York Post as a “classic hoarder.”
“I’ve been inside and I got scared. Just piles and piles of newspapers,” Cyril said. “The place was a fire hazard. It was just waiting to happen, and it happened. It’s just so sad she had to leave in this way.”
The spokesperson tells PEOPLE there was not a working smoke alarm in the home.