PORTLAND -- Fire crews worry that as the cold temperatures settle in they’ll see more fires in homes with hoarder-type activity.
There have been two such fires in the last two days.
Tuesday night crews fought a fire inside a North Portland home filled with what they described as hoarder-like stacks.
The North Portland home caught fire around 7 p.m. while the resident was out of town. No one was hurt, but at one point flames and intense heat shot out into the night sky.
Neighbors like Alec Meter worried it would spread.
“ I was really scared,” said Meter. “I mean there was a house on fire just next to mine!”
Inside, fire crews found what they described as hoarder-type conditions. There were so many stacks they decided to cut a hole in a wall for an emergency escape route.
“This is a zero-visibility environment,” said Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman. “So not only do you have a tremendous amount of stuff in your way, but you can’t see it. So you’re gonna get knocked over. You’re gonna try to climb over stuff. You’re not even sure if you’re going the right way at a certain point.”
The night before Battle Ground Wash. crews found similar conditions at a mobile home fire.
The fire broke out on Southwest 7th Avenue and crews arrived quickly. Despite that, firefighters found Penny J. Davis, 53, dead on a living room couch inside.
“Yeah it was pretty crowded inside,” said Davis’ neighbor Virgil Pardo. “I mean you could barely walk in there.”
Pardo said the homeowners friends tried to help her get rid of the clutter and stacks but she resisted.
“They tried every which way to help her,” Pardo said.
Kevin Ashworth of the NW Anxiety Institute said that’s about as much as you can do.
“What a neighbor can do is say, ‘Hey, I know you’ve got lots of stuff. It seems like you’re overwhelmed. Is there any way that we can help?’” said Ashworth.
Fire crews urge you to make sure papers and stacks of things are kept away from heaters where they might catch fire and to keep