UPDATE: Richmond Fire Department determines fatal Northside house fire was accidental

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond Fire Department responded to a Friday morning house fire in Northside that killed one man and injured a firefighter.

The department said at about 9:41 a.m. on April 30, the crews responded to a house fire on 3216 Delaware Avenue. When they arrived, firefighters saw heavy smoke coming from the home, which had clutter conditions inside.

At 9:45 a.m. RFD declared it a working fire.

A mayday was declared for a firefighter injury at 9:56 a.m. The department said he was working on the second floor of the home when he began to fall through a hole. The firefighter caught himself, and other crew members pulled him back up, then helped him outside.

“We’re unsure what caused the hole in the floor in the second floor,” said Raymond Neville, Acting Battalion Chief. “He was on a hose line on the second floor extinguishing the fire when he fell through. He didn’t fall all the way though.”

The firefighter was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Chief Neville said damage inside the house was extensive, and he believe some of it was there before the fire started.

“Just the condition and age of the home,” he said. “There was fire throughout the first and second floor and also into the attic.”

RFD said that hoarding inside of the home led to challenging conditions for fire crews.

“We’re just trying to get the word out to the community about people that are suffering from mental illness that have a hoarding condition, that they reach out to medical professionals,” the department said. “Because we are having an influx of fires lately due to hoarding conditions. The occupants are either unable to exit the structure or we’re having a hard time extinguishing the fire.”

RFD said the house is condemned.

Chief Neville said when firefighters arrived, neighbors told them there was a man on the second floor.

At 9:57 a.m. RFD said they found a man on the second floor who was quickly taken outside. Neville the man was already dead when he was brought outside. That man was the only person inside the house.

Neighbors who didn’t want to be named estimated that the man who died was in his 60’s. They say he lived there with another older gentleman who was not there at the time of the fire. Authorities have not yet identified the victim. 

Penny Robinson said she was helping her brother move in when they smelled smoke and ran over to the home.

“I started hollering ‘Someone call 9-11, call 9-11,” she said.

Robinson said she was “hoping and praying” that no one was inside, but said she and others were knocking on the front and back doors in case someone was. 

“At the time it was just mainly smoke but then all of a sudden fire was shooting out of different windows,” she said. 

After firefighters arrived, she saw them carrying a body outside.

“We were just praying,” she said. “They [firefighters] were working on him. They really did what they could do.”

She said she’s there to help the victim’s family if they need support going forward. “If you need anybody, you know we’re here to help you.”

The fire was marked under control at 10:46 a.m.

The Richmond Fire Department said the fire was found to be accidental. It started in a room on the left side of the first floor.

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