Hoarding fuels massive fire; Experts say the condition runs deep

Maggie Vespa

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

Hoarding fuels massive fire; Experts say the condition runs deep

CREATED Jan. 9, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - This unbelievable blaze sparked just before midnight Wednesday.

 
It happened in a backyard near Camino De La Tierra and Orange Grove, destroying two mobile homes and a shed.
 
Firefighters say it is the result of a 'recreational fire' turned castastrophic, one that was made much worse by conditions many of us see only on TV.
 
 
Reality shows like give many a first insight into this very real way of life.
 
Experts say conditions like those can have very real consequences.
 
It left neighbors stunned.
 
"The heat was so intense," one man said.
 
It left firefighters at a loss.
 
"This is all fuel," said Captain Adam Sandberg of the Northwest Fire Dept.
 
Sandberg tells us 'large hoarding like conditions' held crews back and helped flames spread.
 
Experts say, sadly, such conditions present many risks.
 
"Rats and mice and roaches," said Ursula Kramer, director of the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality.
 
They investigate hoarding complaints.
 
Kramer says most are border-line.
 
"We work with them and try and figure out what it is that they're trying to accomplish and explain the rules, explain the concerns of their neighbors," said Kramer.
 
Once in a while, a Tucson home ranks right up there with reality TV, stories that counselor Laura Neely says can be misleading.
 
"It's kind of a disservice to not really be more realistic about the disorder.>
 
Neely says true hoarders are driven by fear, social anxiety, and obsessive compulsive tendencies.
 
Treatment is complicated, often involving medications.
 
"Those might help, but this is probably something that's going to stay with this person, and trying to make it manageable would be really difficult," she said.
 
Capt. Goldberg says a 48 year-old man and his elderly mother lived in that home where Wednesday's fire started.
 
The Red Cross is assisting them and a third victim tonight.
 
Everyone is okay.
 

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