Firefighters put out fire at cluttered Rancho Penasquitos home

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A fire broke out Wednesday morning at a duplex in Rancho Penasquitos, and responding firefighters confronted cluttered conditions in one of the homes in order to knock down the flames and search for residents, authorities said.

The blaze was reported a little before 4:40 a.m. in the 9000 block of High Park Lane, according to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department officials. High Park Lane is a duplex-lined residential street just north of Ted Williams Parkway, just west of Carmel Mountain Road and south of Black Mountain Park.

Firefighters at the scene said the residence appeared to be a "hoarder home," and footage from 10News showed the garage stacked floor to ceiling with boxes, stacks of papers and other miscellaneous household items. Firefighters reported that the cluttered nature of the residence made it difficult to search for any potential victims and find the source of the flames.

Heavy smoke billowed from the attic and garage of the dwelling when firefighters first arrived, forcing crews to create holes in the roof to let the smoke out of the structure.

Crews were able to control the flames in about 30 minutes.

Neighbors told 10News that a man lived there alone, but firefighters reported that nobody was found inside the dwelling during an initial search and a second, more thorough search.

A woman living next door was forced to evacuate from her home during the firefighting effort. She told 10News she would not be able to return to her home for a few days because of smoke and water damage.

The woman said she knew of her next-door neighbor's reputation of being a "hoarder," and she explained that she had concerns that his house would catch fire because of the numerous items inside.

Fire crews and investigators planned to remain at the scene for several hours Wednesday morning searching for any residents, knocking down any flare-ups and investigating what sparked the blaze.

A fire official at the scene told 10News houses considered "hoarding" homes can be dangerous for firefighters because it makes it difficult for crews to maneuver inside, which can take up time during a critical situation.

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