Chief talks about difficulties firefighters faces battling blaze at hoarder’s home

Published 11:03 am Thursday, March 21, 2024

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VIDOR — A fire in a home officials said was occupied by a hoarder made for numerous challenges, including exploding spray paint cans in cramped rooms, with only a narrow path inside.

Orange County Emergency Services District No. 1 Chief Robert Smith said firefighters were on scene for five hours beginning at 11 a.m. Wednesday for the structure fire in the 1400 block of Dogwood.

Firefighters were under the command of Lieutenant Kenneth Luce when they arrived at the single-story wood frame with brick veneer house, where heavy fire was showing from the roof.

A Vidor home was destroyed by fire on Wednesday, authorities said. (Courtesy photo)

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Smith said a man in the house had been cooking for his dog and possibly left something on the stove. The man was able to get to safety, and no injuries were reported.

Firefighters used a hose line near the rear of the home and were met with intense fire conditions. A second line was deployed for an interior attack on the blaze when authorities learned the house was occupied by a hoarder and there was only a narrow path leading into the house, according to Orange County ESD No. 1’s Facebook page.

Conditions quickly deteriorated during the fire battle inside the home, causing firefighters to evacuate the structure. The fire was now a defensive fire.

Mutual aid was requested from Orange County ESD No.4, Orange County ESD No. 2 and Pinehurst Fire Department and multiple lines were used to help contain the blaze.

Mutual aid was also requested from the Sabine Neches Chiefs Association for 50 gallons of foam, according to the Facebook post.

Smith said there was possibly hundreds of spray paint cans that, due to the heat of the fire, began exploding in the cramped house, creating a dangerous situation.

At some point, part of the roof and some walls began to collapse so Smith called to the City of Vidor for help and assistance arrived in the form of a Gradall machine, which was used to lay down the collapsing areas.

Smith said this is probably the second time in 30 years a Gradall machine was used to aid in a fire.

The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation, and the home was a total loss.

Smith said this fire could be a reminder of the dangers that lie with homes that are cramped because of the difficulty in getting to safety and in fighting the fire.