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Firefighters Run Into Smoke-filled Home of Hoarder

Posted at 6:16 PM, Aug 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-06 21:27:57-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids firefighters found themselves in a dangerous scenario as they ran into the smoke-filled home of a hoarder, in the 1200 block of Orville SE.

“There is a hoarding situation on site. We had difficulty navigating inside the structure. It’s either waste chest high on the first floor to the second floor,” Margaret Felix, the battalion chief said.

It’s a difficult situation firefighters say they find themselves in from time to time, as they run into homes filled with smoke. Felix said a number of scattered objects with limited walking space can trap firefighters and victims inside.

Fortunately, the woman that lived in the home was awakened by her smoke detector and made it outside.

“This is probably years and years of stuff built up over time,” Felix said.

However, it’s not the hoarding that is being blamed for the actual fire. It started in the living room, and a cause hasn’t been determined, but the fire inspector said it could have been the misuse of an electrical outlet.

“Things that we find are very common in homes like this and businesses even, people misuse power strips,” the fire inspector said.

“Power strips are really used for low voltage appliances. Things like computers, televisions, lamps, and when you overload that circuit, that can cause an over current which builds up heat and that’s where the problem starts,” he explained.

Fortunately the fire didn’t spread any further. The battalion chief couldn’t quantify how often it happens but it could quickly make a bad situation worse.

“It is a problem, and it comes in streaks. There’s pockets throughout the city that has more hoarders than others and it`s just hit or miss,” she said.

The family said “no comment” to media at the scene.

The woman will not be able to stay there for some time. Firefighters said there is smoke and heat damage.