Man dies in Northwest D.C. fire

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Firefighters faced several obstacles when they got to the scene of a fire Wednesday morning that killed the 86-year-old homeowner. Officials say hoarding conditions inside the house on Webster St. made it difficult to fight the fire and find the victim.

The fire in the 300 block of Webster St. poured out of the first floor living room window. When the smoke cleared inside, D.C. Fire says the man’s body was found hidden underneath furniture.

“Neighbors said they had spoken to him today and he had indicated to them that he was going in to fix a turkey and that was the last anyone saw him,” says Deputy Fire Chief Edward Pearson.

The homeowner’s pickup truck was outside so neighbors warned firefighters they believed he was home. Sources say the house{ } was filled from the floor to the ceiling with materials, handicapping efforts to find the man as the fire raged through the mountain of debris.

“I know he had a lot of stuff in there,” says Waddell Jackson, a neighbor. “I know it was rough on them.”

The fire department says given the amount of items inside the house it was fortunate the fire didn’t spread.

“Just gushing everywhere,” says Leroy Copeland, another neighbor. “It was bad, yes.”

There is a daycare next door, but the children were out on a walk at the time.

The day before Thanksgiving, sadness filled the block as most said they often saw the retired widower collecting cans for recycling. Bags of cans were in his truck.

“He was a kindhearted man,” says Jackson. “You don’t know how you’re going to go. We didn’t come here to stay. We’re going to leave here one way or another. I am sad about it.”

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