LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A house fire early Saturday morning killed one man and brought fire crews from three different departments face-to-face with a difficult and dangerous challenge.
Jeff Buchanan, Clark County Fire Department Deputy Chief, said crews found significant debris inside of the home making it difficult for them to get inside, fight the fire, and potentially rescue the man inside.
Neighbor Sam Whitten said she watched as crews probed for entrances through walls of trash, and then became nervous for fire fighters when theny found their way in while the home was still burning.
"All of the doors and windows were blocked," she said, "just to think that there's so much stuff in there. You don't know what's going to fall on them, hit them. They're digging around doing their best to look for a person."
Buchanan said getting inside of homes like the one on Arlee Court can be hard, but getting out of them in high pressure situations can be nearly impossible even for highly trained fire fighters.
"It completely takes fire fighters and occupants for a loop when you add a little bit of urgency and smoke," he said.
Bechanan said a vigilant incident commander noticed the fire had spread to the attic of the home, and called his team out just in time.
He said the roof collapsed moments after the crews found their way out.
"When that pathway is crowded, or completely obstructed, you can't get out," Buchanan said.
Buchanan said crews had to call in a front-loader to push charred debris out of the home in an attempt to prevent a flare-up.
Whitten said she hopes the deadly fire can teach others a valuable lesson about fire safety.
"You can't let it get to this extreme," she said, "if it's not for you, it's for those other people if they ever have to come rescue you and save your life."