EUGENE, Ore. -- We now know what likely caused a deadly fire in Eugene last Saturday that claimed the life of an Air Force veteran.
Fire officials said the amount of stuff that was inside the mobile home actually prevented fire crews from getting in, and the man inside from getting out.
Officials said Frederick Leonard Hayes, an Air Force Veteran in his 70's, died in that fire.
His family gave fire officials some background on him, allowing them to share that information in his memory.
"He was a friendly and nice man," said Eugene-Springfield Chief Fire Marshal Amy Linder. "A little eccentric and endearingly referred to as an old hippie. He had an affinity for collecting and decor, both inside and outside his home."
Officials said that affinity contributed to his death.
"The over-abundance of belongings decreased areas of maneuverability within and around the home, impacting fire development and intensity, fire crew maneuverability and access and Mr. Hayes' means of egress," Linder said.
Crews said the fire started in the carport, and his improper use of extension cords, power strips and lighting caused electrical components to fail and sparked an accidental fire.
In addition, the number of belongings in his home, as well as his own physical handicap, made it so that he couldn't make it out before dying from inhaling too much smoke.
Crews said they hope the public uses this fire to learn about the importance of safety.
"The accumulation of belongings creates challenges in emergency situations," Linder said. "In an EMS situation, it may hinder the ability to get a gurney or equipment in to provide care. In a fire, it can contribute to fire load and intensity, as well as impact access to the fire."
Fire officials also said they wanted to take this time to remind the public to have working smoke detectors, as well as an escape plan for your home.
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