MILWAUKIE – An elderly man was killed and a firefighter injured after an unsafe house full of debris went up in flames early Sunday morning in Milwaukie.
Investigators discovered 76-year-old Eric Youngfellow's body shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday after using heavy machinery to remove burned remodeling debris and household products from the home at 5135 SE El Centro Way.
The injured Clackamas firefighter fell off an unsteady second-floor perch, landed on his face and broke his nose while trying to fight the 3:15 a.m. blaze, Battalion Chief John Oliver said.
The firefighter was taken to the hospital and released Sunday afternoon.
Natural gas flowed from a broken supply line and fed the flames that took more than two hours to put out.
"It was a really challenging fire to fight because of the multiple add-ons to the house," Oliver said. "There was a significant amount of articles inside and around the home."
Police were at the scene and evacuated some of the neighbors because the fire had gotten so large.
"The dog was going crazy. I could see orange illuminating my bedroom," said Lacey McColoum, one of Youngfellow's neighbors. "The cop told us to get out of here. I was sound asleep."
"The guy didn't have any garbage service and he used to burn his garbage, and the neighborhood, it would smell in here," said Bill Larsen, another neighbor. "He had junk all over the place. He even had paint cans up on the roof."
More than 60 percent of the house was in flames when firefighters arrived and was deemed a total loss.
Firefighters wanted to remind people to limit the amount of debris inside and outside their homes, so evacuating a home in the event of a fire will be easier and safer.
Investigators were on scene trying to determine the cause of the blaze.