A woman and her two adult children who died in a house fire lived among so much clutter that it prevented their escape, an investigator said Tuesday.
The fire Monday morning apparently started near a central heating unit but no cause has been identified, according to Pasadena Fire Marshal David Brannon, who identified the victims as hoarders.
"They had been collecting stuff for some time," Brannon said, noting debris such as paper goods and clothing that were left charred and hard to recognize. "If it was something they could collect, they had it."
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The clutter played a role in the family -- a woman in her late 70s and her children, in their 50s -- being unable to evacuate the one-story wood-frame home, Brannon said. The siblings had mental disabilities but were mobile. He did not elaborate on their disabilities.
"The mobility problems that they had were trying to evacuate the house because of all of the obstructions that were in the way. We even had challenges getting in there to fight the fire," Brannon said.
The names of the victims were not immediately released.
"Code enforcement had been working with them on many occasions," Brannon said. "It's one of those things that once you get it cleaned up, they just seem to bring more stuff in. It was just a constant cycle."
The mother's body was in a bathroom. Her son was found dead in a hallway. Her daughter's body was in a back bedroom of the house that did not have smoke detectors, Brannon said.
The fire was reported by neighbors and others passing by, Brannon said.