Fire officials have boarded up a house on Newcastle Avenue after piles of material too close to a wood stove caught fire Thursday morning.
Ennis Mond, fire investigator with Nanaimo Fire Rescue, said an elderly lady, who he described as a hoarder, lived in the old house with her dog.
When fire crews attempted to enter the house just before 9 a.m., they found the floors piled about one metre-high with items the woman had collected over the years, some of which crews had to move to get at the blaze.
Only a patch of the stairs was free of piled items, said Mond.
“The house is so cluttered with combustible material, she’s lucky the whole house didn’t go up,” he said. “I’ve deemed it unsafe to live in right now. It’s hazardous for the crews, it’s hazardous for the neighbours.”
He also found signs that rats were living in the house.
Fire damage was confined to the materials piled near the stove, Mond said, with some smoke damage throughout.
The owner had no insurance and unless someone is willing to help her clear out the house, she will have to find another place to live, he said.
Emergency social services is providing her with a place to stay for three nights.