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Hoarding Eyed as Factor in Fatal Illinois Fire

Firefighter say massive about of "personal property" slowed their efforts to rescue elderly couple.

Sam and Barbara Garland's Pekin, Illinois home is now just a pile of debris.

The house caught fire early Sunday morning. 

Pekin Firefighters were on the scene for 12 hours, forced to demolish the home to search for the victims buried inside.  

They uncovered the bodies of the Garlands later that night.

Deputy Fire Chief Brian Cox says the amount of personal property in the house made it impossible to get inside.

"The front door was completely blocked. From what I understand the upstairs of the house was just packed to the ceiling with stuff," Cox said.

Cox says the fire originated in the basement, but the cause is unknown. All of the evidence was destroyed in the flames.

Family members mentioned Sam Garland had bought a space heater, but wasn't sure where he'd be able to plug it in.

"In digging through everything we found numerous extension cords... So if they plugged a space heater into an extension cord and it was fishing through all their stuff creating heat. Than there is a good possibility that contributed to it," Cox said.

Family members say that the couple had accumulated so many belongings that their living area was confined to the basement. Having only narrow walkways between the bathroom and the laundry room.

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