NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A house that officials say had “hoarding conditions’ caught fire Sunday morning in Norfolk.

According to Norfolk Fire-Rescue, crews responded to the fire at 6:11 a.m. in the 600 block of Green View Ln. When crews arrived on the scene, they saw heavy fire conditions coming from the single-family home.

The next-door neighbors say the fire was caused by the water heater in the garage and that their home was also damaged by the fire. Paint is peeled off of the side of the bedroom of Richard Benner and Janice Polinario along with their windows being cracked from the fire.

Benner said they were woken up around 4 a.m. by the heat of the flames coupled with pounding on their door.

The groundskeeper from the golf course across the street saw the flames and rushed to alert them.

“I noticed it started getting a little hot in the room and low and behold our next-door neighbors’ garage was on fire and it was cluttering everything,” Benner said.

Officials say the extinguishment of the fire was impacted due to the hoarding conditions at the home.

Polinario said there’s been trouble with the hoarding since they moved into the house in July.

“I’ve contacted the city and nothing obviously was done until today with the fire. I never realized it was a life and death situation until this morning,” Polinario said.

They say a power line was coming from the burning house, and one firefighter had to cut it. They said this put their elderly neighbor in danger for a short time, as he relied on power usage for his oxygen pump.

David Kirsten who rents from Polinario and Benner said he kicked in the door of the home in case anyone was trapped inside. The only thing on his mind he said was saving lives.

“I run up there, I start knocking on the door, I kicked in the door and there was so much stuff that I couldn’t open the door full all of the way. I started yelling, ‘Is anybody in there,’ and I get no response,” Kirsten said.

He didn’t find a person in the home but did find a dog walking through the clutter-made tunnels.

“I see a dog coming to the front door but he’s blocked by garbage, so I had to reach over and grab him, and I pulled him out by the leash and I start hearing explosions coming from the backyard, so I grab him and start running across the street to get him away from the scene.”

Polinario said after the fire, she was just happy they were all safe.

“We’re very thankful to be alive. So, we’re thankful for the fire department, and the groundskeeper and the golf course in Oceanview thank you so much,” Polinario said.

No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported. One person has been displaced as a result of the fire.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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