Manchester hoarders warned of danger and hazards collections can cause – Mancunian Matters

In Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions on November 4, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Fire hazard: Dangers of hoarding made aware

Hoarders are being warned by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) about the danger and fire hazards their collections can pose.

Following an influx of TV documentaries and international news coverage, people have become increasingly aware of the risks of hoarding.

The most recent documentary aired last week on Channel 4. It depicted the story of compulsive hoarder Richard Wallace, whose cluttered garden could be seen from space on Google Earth.

Mr Wallace’s mother had controlled his compulsion. However, after her death he stashed away so many possessions that his home became unlivable.

It would take him 45 minutes and an extreme fire hazard just to fry an egg.

GMFRS Station Manager Andy Ross said: “Fires in homes that are occupied by hoarders are not new.”

Crews were recently called to a fire in Stockport after a pan of water had been left unattended on an electric cooker.

Due to the amount of materials nearby, a fire started in the kitchen whilst the home-owner was upstairs and she became trapped by both the fire and her accumulated possessions.

GMFRS crews and Community Safety Advisors later returned to the area to offer support to the woman, who suffered from minor smoke inhalation and Home Safety Checks to neighbouring properties.

Station Manager Ross added: “As a fire service we can’t solve the problem of why somebody hoards… [However] we can follow up the incident with a Home Safety Check.

“If we notice materials starting to build up again we can get in touch with the family or Social Services and raise our concerns to get the most appropriate help.”

Earlier this year in Derbyshire a woman whose house caught fire was not found for three days due to the amount she hoarded in the property.

She had been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in 2005 but had declined offers of help from medical and social services staff.

Founder of the hoarding support website, Jasmine Harman, said: “I want to provide information, support and advice and create awareness about this secretive condition.”

‘Elaine’ is one contributor to the website’s discussion board. Her message, entitled ‘first time talked about this’ reveals the deeper psychological implications of hoarding that require continued support.

Like Mr Wallace, Elaine describes how her father’s death caused her mother to hoard because of her depression. She made Elaine keep her secret with her.

The NHS explains that hoarding may accompany mental health issues such as depression oranxiety and is often seen in people with OCD.

Elaine confessed that: “I am off work at the moment getting over suicidal thoughts, perhaps I am ready to ‘let the secret that eats at me out’?”

Area Manager Dave Keelan, Head of GMFRS’ Prevention services, said: “We work closely with our Community Safety Education Team (CSET) to develop fire safety awareness packages which highlight specific risks affecting people who hoard and those with mental health needs.”

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this story, please email us here.

The NHS has information about hoarding and advice for families on its website:

For a free Home Safety Check, which could include the fitting of smoke alarms, call 0800 555 815 or visit


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