St. Paul hoarder dies after his books and magazines catch fire [IMAGES]
The home where this morning's fatal fire occurred as it looked after it was extinguished.
Early this morning, a St. Paul man died after his house on the 1400 block of Hamline Avenue North caught fire. But officials say he might've made it out alive if not for his huge collection of books, magazines, and other printed materials.
"We couldn't get inside the house because it was literally filled floor-to-ceiling with stuff in the front, in the back, on the sides," St. Paul Fire Chief Steve Zaccard said. "Some people call it hoarding."
The fire started in the basement of the home, where the man -- a smoker in his 60s (his name hasn't yet been released) -- lived alone.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation, but Zaccard said the clutter likely contributed to the man's death.
"The clutter was not only a combustible for ignition, but it spread the fire faster," he said. "[The man] got as far as the door and then collapsed. This definitely made it more risky for him."
Here's another look at the huge pile of stuff firefighters encountered as they tried to enter the house:
Despite today's fatal fire, fire officials believe the home might not be a total loss. But they're concerned all the water-logged stuff on the living room floor might cause that level to collapse into the basement.
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