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Fires in debris-clogged Riverside home kill 25 dogs

October 7, 2009 |  3:59 pm
Riverside firefighters responded twice within 12 hours to two separate blazes in a house packed with debris where more than two dozen dogs died of smoke inhalation, authorities said today.

In both blazes, which broke out Tuesday evening and early this morning, firefighters had difficulty entering the single-story home and moving around inside because it was jammed with furniture and boxes filled with clothes and other items.

"They were faced with packrat conditions," said Division Chief John Martinez of the Riverside Fire Department. "It was bulging at the seams with stuff."

The first blaze was reported Tuesday at 6:40 p.m. The fire was apparently sparked by a wiring problem with a fan in the bathroom, Martinez said. The flames damaged the attic and two bedrooms of the home in the 1800 block of Missouri Street near downtown Riverside.

While firefighters were mopping up the blaze, they found 14 dogs in cages in a bedroom. "They were overcome by the smoke," Martinez said.

The second fire, a rekindling of the first blaze, broke out at 4:17 this morning. After knocking down the flames, firefighters discovered 11 more dogs dead from the smoke.

"They were huddled in a back room," Martinez said.

Two firefighters suffered minor eye injuries in each of the blazes.

--Robert J. Lopez