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Lansing, Michigan

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Three Fires in Lansing Area Linked to Hoarding

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Hoarding Easily Leads to Fires

I’m sure you’ve watched the TV show “Hoarders” on TLC, or at least flipped by it with the remote.  The plights of the hoarders on that show are surely sad, but hoarding can cause problems for other people than just the hoarder.  In the past month, Lansing area firefighters have responded to 3 house fires resulting from hoarding situations.  At 10 a.m. yesterday, firefighters were called to the 600 block of Vernon Avenue when smoke was seen poring out of the homes windows.  When they entered, they found piles of stuff inside covered in heavy flames.  Thankfully, no one was inside at the time of the fire but the house is a complete loss.

Hoarding: A Serious Mental Illness

Hoarding is characterized by an obsession (pdf) with collecting items that others may deem useless such as paper products, containers, or rotten food.  However, hoarders may also collect clothing, animals, or other items they “got on sale” or for free.  Hoarding is considered a facet of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and can occur concurrently with other mental illnesses such as dementia or Schizophrenia.  Hoarding, in its more advanced forms, can lead to a threat to the health and safety of those living in a home because of the increased risk of fire, structural damage to the home, or health problems from spoiled food, dust, pests and other contaminants from the large quantity of items.  Sadly, hoarders also tend to isolate away from family or friends because of the fear of judgment and conflict from outsiders.  Hoarding can be treated, but it is considered a lifelong struggle for those who are afflicted with it.

Firefighters Work With City Code Compliance Over Uptick in Hoarding Fires

Lansing firefighters say they are working with city code compliance on the problem of hoarding to determine if the three fires in the past month are coincidence or if there is a trend of hoarding in the city.  The woman who lived in the home on Vernon Street was not at home during the time of the fire is currently being helped by a friend.  In related news, authorities in Texas recently removed over 100 cats from a Houston home where two sisters were living.  The problem of hoarding is both heartbreaking and serious both for those afflicted with this mental illness as well as family, friends, neighbors, and sometimes even animals.