23 Aug 2012

Hoarding in the news, again


It has been six months since I blogged about the fire at a hoarder’s house in Maryland and now two more events have come to my attention. I don’t know how many similar events I’ve missed in that time frame.  The new events occured on opposite coasts a week apart.

The first tragedy involves the deaths of two hoarders in a Chester County, PA fire and was reported on August 11.  Police and firemen reported that the house was filled with clothes, books and magazines the two had hoarded.  The fire was electrical and not suspicious, but the hoarding made if difficult for firemen to gain entry and move around in the burning home.  It also contributed more fuel to burn.  Unfortunately, the couple had failed to heed the township fire marshal who told them several times to clear out the mess and clutter.

 The second tragedy involved another house fire that killed two in San Francisco, CAand was reported on August 17.  In this case the cause of the fire is unknown but the deaths are also not suspicious.  The home was filled with debris “that literally added fuel to the fire” and made it difficult to search the home, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.  There was a large pile of clothing and knickknacks that spilled into the front garden and partly obstructed the driveway. It had been there since just after the two men moved in years ago before.  “It’s sad,” a neighbor said, “They would have gotten saved if it wasn’t for all this junk here.”

In both of these cases people knew the circumstances before the tragedies happened.  Unfortunately, hoarders tend to deny the seriousness of their situations and neighbors, friends and family often feel as though they are “meddling” if they get involved.  In one of these cases the government even got involved, but unsuccessfully.

As I said six months ago, hoarder’s homes are often filled with flammables, combustibles, toxic chemicals and other biological hazards. The situation gets even worse as the home falls in to disrepair due to lack of access, lack of funds or an unwillingness to let repairman in to maintain the structure. A fire can rage out of control despite fire fighters’ best efforts and the home can become practically impassable even without a fire. We can only hope that people at risk reach out for the support of their family, friends, and the help of professionals.  We can also hope that family, friends and neighbors find the courage and the strength to get involved.

About the Author

works mostly behind the scenes at Conquer the Clutter, supporting Maria's efforts to make the world a neater place to live.

3 Responses to Hoarding in the news, again
  1. I LOVE throwing thgnis away. I hate clutter and I love cleaning out our closets and pantry every few months to donate away our excess. DH is not a hoarder, but my MIL is definitely a mild hoarder. Her house is kept clean, but her closets, cabinets, and emergency basement shelter is stocked FULL of endless amounts of non-perishables and soap/detergent/body wash/tooth paste/etc.DH has an addiction to buying thgnis in bulk when they are on sale and we have coupons, but I nip that in the butt before it gets out of control.

  2. I love to throw stuff away. My husband, on the other hand, likes to keep stuff. I’ve worekd on him a bit and now we are shredding all papers that are really unnecessary and shredding paperwork older than 7 years (tax purposes). The next step is to get him to go through all of his clothes that he will never wear again. The man has more clothes than any woman I have ever met. It’s amazing. My rule is, if I haven’t used or worn it in the past year, it goes. He has stuff he hasn’t worn or used in 8 years…..we’re working on it… 🙂

    • Not sure what I’d hoard, especially since we live with the in laws and OCD MIL would never ever let aiyhtnng pile up. Anyways, I love the way this read. Paper. In particular school related paper as in projects and things. I wish I kept more of my kids things but they usually get admired for a bit then tossed. On second thought, IF I could become a hoarder, it’d be paper in magazine form. For some reason I hold onto magazines waiting for them to be useful. Alas, when I’ve tossed em out of course they’re needed.Paulette recently posted..

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