'Extreme clutter' hampers efforts to fight house fire

'Extreme clutter' hampers efforts to fight house fire »Play Video
KATU photo.

PORTLAND, Ore. - A man was injured late Wednesday night when the second floor of his home went up in flames.

Fire crews say the extreme clutter they found in the home made it harder and more dangerous for them to extinguish the flames.

The fire happened around 11 p.m. at a home in the 2900 block of Southeast Berkeley Place.

When firefighters arrived, smoke was visible and when they went inside they discovered that the fire appeared to have started in a bedroom. Flames had then spread throughout the second floor.

A man at the home ended up with burn injuries and was taken to the hospital. The extent of his injuries is not known at this time, but he was conscious when he was loaded into an ambulance.

Portland firefighters say they average at least one call a month where they deal with a fire at the home where people have lots of clutter in their homes.

Such people have been called “hoarders” in TV shows and elsewhere, although firefighters say they prefer the phrase “extreme clutter” so people aren’t stigmatized in these emotional situations.

“We have a fairly high incidence of homes with fires that involve this kind of clutter,” said fire bureau spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman.

In this case, a neighbor said the homeowner was going through a rough time and had stopped getting water and garbage service.

“We tried to get the social service agencies involved and haven’t been successful,” neighbor Phil Stanford said. “This is the third fire in the last few years here in this house.”

“Some of the interior crews had reported encountering a lot of clutter and making it difficult to get to that second floor,” said Chatman.

More information on hoarding can be found at the International OCD Foundation website.