Hoarding prevented Westfield firefighters from helping fire victims

There were no smoke detectors in the home

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Two deaths in a fire in Westfield over the weekend could have been prevented.

There were no smoke detectors in the home, and Westfield Deputy Fire Chief Patrick Egglof told 22News that clutter throughout the home at 40 Park Street made it difficult for firefighters to get through.

Neighbors told 22News that 40 Park Street is one of two properties on the street where hoarding has been an issue.

The Westfield Building Department confirmed there had been violations at 40 Park Street in the past, and one neighbor said they’ve filed multiple complaints over the last six years with the city over hoarding concerns at another home just a few houses down.

The neighbors did not want to speak on camera, but area residents said hoarding can come with safety concerns.

40 Park Street

Westfield resident Jean Zercher told 22News, “They could trip, you know they could get hurt. Beause I have a neighbor on the first floor that does that. Goes into the dumpster and gets stuff out and hoards it and keeps it in the house. But she has somebody that comes once a month and cleans her house out.”

James Palmier of West Springfield told 22News, “Just as things age and get old and brittle and dry, they might accumulate and cause a potential fire risk. Especially if they’re near electrical.”

According to Westfield’s property maintenance ordinance, all property has to be kept free of litter, refuse, garbage, or accumulation of junk of any kind. Violation of the maintenance ordinance is punishable by a fine of $100 each day the violation continues.

Westfield’s Director of Public Health could not be reached for comment, but a resident said they were told a city councilor and a member of the health department would be evaluating one of the properties on Wednesday.

Related Westfield fire coverage: