Thursday, June 3, 2010

After Fire, A Tale Of Compulsive Hoarding

BY Sally E. Bahner

At a Patrick Lane house fire last month, firefighters used an odd term in describing the fire. “Collyer,” they said in talking to each other.

They were referring to the brothers found dead in their New York mansion under more than 100 tons of junk. The year was 1947. Ever since then the term “Collyer brothers” has come to mean serious hoarding.

Assistant Fire Chief Shaun Heffernan took the example of the Patrick Lane fire to help lead a discussion on hoarding last week at the Canoe Brook Senior Center. He said it was time to let the public become aware of the problem and to find a way to seek help. He also wanted to let the public know that Branford was not immune from the hoarding disorder.

“We’ve seen it in Branford,” he said. “There have been a dozen or so cases…”

About 20 seniors showed up for the talk. Heffernan was joined by Jane Corvin, a clinical social worker with the Branford Counseling Center and Alex Cinotti and Barbara DeSerio of the East Shore District Health Department. They discussed the myriad reasons for hoarding and how to seek help to solve them.

Heffernan said that hoarding may lead to a fire and the destruction of a house, as it did at Patrick Lane April 17. It may prevent or delay firefighters and paramedics from getting into a blazing house. At Patrick Lane, firefighters also encountered high trees and shrubs that created a barrier from the street, making it difficult to get into the house..." More

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