MARYLAND — Three recent fire deaths linked to hoarding have the Maryland State Fire Marshal warning about the dangers of hoarding conditions.

Hoarders keep large amounts of various items in their homes and often have trouble distinguishing between valuable items and garbage. They frequently become distressed if anyone attempts to dispose of the items.

According to Maryland State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci, this can lead to items like old newspapers, rotting food, paper, animals, and even animal manure piling up inside a home. “Our biggest goal is the life safety and health of not only of the person living within the home but anyone living around them. ”

Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) said between 3 and 5% of the population suffers from hoarding tendencies.

The collected items eventually fill up homes and prevent people from using the space. It also poses a threat to residents, their neighbors, and firefighters.

Hoarding increases fire risk since flammable items are often crowded in next to stoves and heaters. The piles of items may also block exits and make it difficult for first responders to locate occupants during a fire.

The Maryland Fire Marshal’s Office suggested contacting you local fire department to alert them of your concerns if you know a hoarder who may be in danger. The fire department may be be able to tell you where to find help.

They also suggested avoiding confronting the hoarder and instead attempt to help them make a fire escape plan. You should also make sure there are working smoke alarms in the home. It’s also suggested that you check the escape routes every few weeks, as hoarders often bring new items into the home that could block exits.