Clutter fuels fire, compromises safety of responders and residents

Local News

HERMITAGE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A reminder from fire officials to declutter your home, following a deadly fire in Hermitage. An elderly woman and her dog died in the fire Wednesday night on Netherlands Drive.

With a fire station less than a mile away, crews responded quickly to the home with flames visible and a woman and dog still inside.

Responders first had to breach the locked door, before facing yet another challenge.

“Once they got in, they quickly noticed there were lots of items that were preventing them from making a quick search of that area,” recalled Nashville Fire Department Public Information Officer Kendra Loney, “Some of those items included boxes and totes and laundry baskets, but obviously it was dark outside. It was nighttime when this fire occurred, so they are not able to see actually what the items are that are obstructing them, but they can feel it and they can feel some resistance when they are trying to move through those items to create a path.”

Loney says clutter inside of a home not only compromises the safety of responders, but homeowners as well.

“Because even though you know your home or you know where you have a box or a tote sitting, in an emergency situation everything can go out of the window as far as what you know, and you kind of panic sometimes, and that can make it very difficult for you,” said Loney, “If you are in a panic trying to get out of your home you can trip and fall, but you can also be blocked in and trapped and in a lot of instances that’s where we find out we have victims trapped because they couldn’t get out of the home safely.”

Loney says those excessive items can add fuel to the fire or the “fire load,” making it burn longer and hotter and potentially causing more damage.

“Clutter adds an element of risk that if you can avoid it, why not avoid it?” said Loney.

The Nashville Fire Department is reminding you to clean up clutter, throw away or donate items if you can to help responders act quickly and safely in situations like this.

The cause of the Hermitage fire is still being investigated, and the name of the victim has not yet been released.

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