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'Pack rat conditions' found in home of North Hills fire victim

August 09, 2013|By Carla Rivera
  • Will Mata, working for ServiceMaster contractors, takes photos of the fire damage to a home in North Hills, which is next door to the destroyed single-story home where firefighters found the bodies of a man and a dog as they were fighting the raging blaze.
Will Mata, working for ServiceMaster contractors, takes photos of the… (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times )

Los Angeles firefighters found "pack rat conditions" inside the North Hills home of an 81-year-old man who was killed along with his dog when fire consumed the structure.

Fire investigators Friday were still searching for the cause of the blaze that tore through the one-story single-family home in the 16300 block of Plummer Street.

The fire was reported just after 9 p.m. Thursday, sending up a large plume of smoke and shooting flames out of the front windows.

The victim was identified as Donald Worthen, said Los Angeles County coroner’s assistant chief Ed Winter. His remains were found in the dining room of the home. The remains of his pet dog were found in the master bedroom.

An autopsy to determine the cause of death is pending, Winter said.

Damage to the home was estimated at $300,000. A neighboring home was also damaged by flames and heat.

There were no security doors or window bars on Worthen’s home that would have blocked exit, but fire officials found “pack rat conditions due to excessive storage inside,” said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott.

Elia Campos, whose parents lived next door to Worthen, described him as a quiet but friendly man who lived alone. She said that he also collected clothes and other items, which he stacked inside and outside the home.

“Clothes, papers, books, tables, he was the type of person who never wanted to get rid of anything,” said Campos, 50.

The living and family room of her parent’s home was heavily damaged when the fire spread, she added. The home was being remodeled and was unoccupied at the time, she said.

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Twitter: @carlariveralat 

carla.rivera@latimes.com

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