Hoarding and fire safety an East Texas problem - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Hoarding and fire safety an East Texas problem

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TYLER (KYTX) -  Hoarding is the mental disorder causing people to obsessively collect and keep random items in their homes. Though it's something the average citizen sees every day, East Texas firefighters see a lot of hoarding.

They say the habit causes lots of house fires, and it's a dangerous trend that's getting worse. 

 

Hearing the words hoarding and house fires in the same sentence may seem strange to you, but the combination is common.
 
"Oh, many hundreds!"

In 24 years of service, that's how many homes Assistant Tyler Fire Marshal Laura Mason has seen filled with hoarded items, sometimes to the ceilings.

"One of the worst ones I can think of that I walked in on, the stuff was just everywhere. There was literally only a trail maybe a foot wide. From the floor up, it looked just like waves on either side," Mason describes.

Now imagine a house like that catching fire, all that *stuff blocking windows and doorways.

It happened on Britton Avenue in Tyler just last year. 

"That was one of the biggest ones we've had around here lately," Mason says.

Thankfully no one was home, but all the hoarded stacks made the massive fire difficult and dangerous to fight.

"Depending on whether it's piled completely to the ceiling which in some places it is, it can fall on us, if it's on fire that puts our gear at more risk of causing injury to us, as well as slowing us down in being able to get out,"Mason says.

Firefighters across the country have died trying to weave through piles of burning rubble, stacked up by hoarders.

"That is something we know we face every day we come to work," Mason says.

She has tried to explain these dangers to local hoarders many times.

"Their safety does not come into their mind, even when you explain it to them. They just don't realize."

She knows hoarding is a disorder spurred by psychological issues, and hopes somehow her message will eventually get through, before more tragedies strikes.

If you or someone you know is dealing with a hoarding problem, there are ways to get help. The ETMC Behavioral Health Center offers a day treatment program that includes help for mood disorders like hoarding. 

To reach the center and find out more about hoarding, click here.

 


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