Homes of hoarders account for 25 percent of fire-related deaths according to a recent study conducted in Australia. Fire departments have joined numerous agencies in Montgomery County, Maryland, to form a special task force to address an expensive and dangerous problem that officials fear is destined to escalate, according to a report from the Washington Examiner
Fire department officials commented on the conditions they face at an incident at a hoarder’s home when passageways are so narrow and stacks of papers so high firefighters barely stand a chance once a fire begins to grow: “We’d typically call the Department of Social Services, but that’s if the house isn’t already burned down,” said Mark Brady, spokesman for the Prince George’s County fire department. A hoarder’s home in Springfield received media attention earlier this month when more than 50 cats were removed from it and wound up infecting every cat in Fairfax County’s animal shelter with a deadly virus. A hoarder does not feel that they are a collector of junk. The report quoted Bonnie Klem, a social worker who heads the county’s Adult Protective Services investigations to say, “You can’t look through our eyes and see what the hoarder is seeing,” Klem said. “These aren’t people who purposefully want to be slobs or a danger to their neighbors. These are people who have a mental health problem.”
Read more about the multiple layers of danger that hoarding brings HERE.
Photo provided by the Montgomery County Government and the Washington Examiner