An elderly couple died Thursday night after flames tore through their Fort Washington, Maryland, home.
Harry and Clara Proctor were inside their home on the 500 block of Round Table Drive when the fire started just after 11:30 p.m. A neighbor called the fire department, but rescue efforts were complicated because of hoarding conditions inside the home, Prince George's County Fire and EMS said.
When firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire was visible throughout the 2-story home, Prince George's County Fire and EMS said.
Conditions were too unsafe for firefighters to immediately enter the home. They were forced to evacuate the home twice due to hoarding conditions inside.
Once they were able to get inside, they found the couple in the foyer. Both were pronounced dead after neither responded to life-saving efforts.
"I didn't think that they would be gone last night," said the couple's neighbor Lula Beard. "You don't know if you're going to make it through the end of the day or the next hour."
One firefighter was taken to the hospital for respiratory distress, officials said. That firefighter has since been released.
Family members say Harry, 75, and Clara, 80, had eight children and lived in the home for close to 50 years.
"They were such a sweet, loving couple and to see this happen to their home and to them is just, you know, crazy. They don't deserve it," said one neighbor who didn't want to be identified.
The fire likely began in the lower level of the house, but the cause remains under investigation. The blaze caused an estimated $150,000 in damages, fire officials said.
The Proctors are the third and fourth victims of a house fire in the county this year, fire officials say.