Crews move in to clear house after hoarder’s home deemed fire, health concern
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Thursday, November 28, 2013 9:03PM EST
Crews in hazmat suits will be back at a home in the Mount Pleasant Road and Eglinton Avenue area for a third day Friday to continue clearing out a man’s home of mountains of hoarded materials that have become a fire hazard.
The work began Wednesday after a court order allowed firefighters to enter the home on Manor Road.
The home’s occupant, a 63-year-old man named Dennis, has lived at the house for more than a decade and neighbours say the problem has been growing along with the horde of materials since then.
“There’s still excessive combustible material in the home and because of that it’s become a dangerous situation and so under the court order, we’re acting to remove some of the material,” said Divisional Chief Jim Stoops of Toronto Fire.
Along with persistent foul odours, feral cats have been inhabiting the home, frightening some neighbours.
“We’ve seen a lot of them get hit by cars and don’t ask us what it smells like in spring when all this melts,” Judy Benic, a neighbour with young children, told CTV Toronto.
However Benic said her main concern is for Dennis himself.
Toronto Fire deemed the house unsafe two years ago and told Dennis to clear out some of the materials. When he declined to do so, the city padlocked the house. So for the past two years, he’s been sleeping in an enclosure on the porch.
“I can’t stand seeing him on his porch there on these cold winter nights,” Benic said.
Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents the area, said most of the people in the neighbourhood share Benic’s concern for their neighbour’s wellbeing.
“It’s been an incredibly difficult situation for over 10 years for this community,” Matlow told CP24 Thursday. “The nice thing about this community is any one of the neighbours who have come up and asked me how things are going here, the first thing they ask is ‘how is Dennis, how is the hoarder at the home?’
“They want to know that his welfare is being protected.”
Matlow said there needs to be tighter cooperation with various city and provincial agencies to deal with problems that involve mental health, public health and safety. He pointed out that no one agency is empowered to deal with all the circumstances of a hoarding situation.
“There is no systematic plan for cases like this,” Matlow said. “As soon as something like this happens – and it happens in every neighbourhood in the city – there needs to be a very clear and immediate way that everyone works together to find a solution for that immediate case.”
Firefighters are expected to return to the home to continue the cleanup Friday morning and they hope to be done the work by the weekend.
Dennis will be allowed to return to the home once it has been cleared, officials say.
- with a report by CTV Toronto’s Zuraidah Alman
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