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Firefighters: ‘Excessive clutter’ can pose risk in your home

(WISH) — Firefighters in Fishers and Indianapolis were hindered by what one called “excessive clutter” on Sunday while dealing with blazes.

Fire officials said excessive clutter not only impacts your safety but the safety of first responders as well. It also hinders their ability to do their job.

Fishers firefighters were called out to the Hillsborough neighborhood around 6:20 p.m. Sunday after a neighbor reported smoke coming from the back of a home.

When firefighters arrived, they had trouble getting inside.

“There was a lot of personal effects in the home, to the point that firefighters weren’t able to make entry with the hose line through the front door. It was just too massive an amount,” said Capt. John Mehling with Fishers Fire Department.

He said crews had to enter the home through the back door. The home may have suffered extra damage due to the amount of clutter.

“Already the fire is going to travel through a room in about three minutes. When you add this kind of material, paper products … it is just going to burn that much quicker, that much hotter and spread that much quicker,” said Mehling.

Indianapolis firefighters had a similar challenge earlier in the day.

A post from their Facebook page reads, “Early morning fire at 1441 Charles St. In garage converted to living space. Excessive Clutter restricts attack efforts as crews climb over & through piles of stuff #dangerous.”

“People have personal effects that are really important to them and we understand that, but when your materials become greater than the space that you have available, look for alternative places in which to store those materials,” said Mehling.

He said the best thing you can do to protect your family is ensuring there is a clear path in your home.

“Nobody plans to have an emergency happen, but when there is one firefighters have got to have access to get to you or wherever the emergency is,” said Mehling.

Both fires remained under investigation.

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