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Officials: Clutter Hindered Battling Fatal Bucks Co. Fire

hilltown fire

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PERKASIE, Pa. (CBS) — Officials in Bucks County say their efforts to battle a house fire that killed two people were made more difficult due to the home being packed full of belongings.

The fire on Middle Road in Hilltown Township Monday claimed the lives of 83-year-old James Betancourt and 74-year-old Katherine Miller.

Miller’s son, Ed, survived the fire by climbing out a window.

Officials say all of the items inside of the home made it harder for them to fight the fire.

“There was a lot of materials in there, stuff stacked up from the floor, in some cases, towards the ceiling,” Hilltown Township Police Chief Christopher Engelhart said.

Engelhart said not only did the clutter hinder firefighters, but it also acted as an accelerant.

“Time is of the essence at that point and I don’t know if that actually would have made a difference in this case.”

When firefighters arrived at the location, the home was fully engulfed in flames.

The fire, which has been ruled accidental, appears to have been caused by a cigarette that was left on the porch area.

Reported By: Valerie Levesque, CBS 3

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