Hoarding does not happen without a price. Today a blaze spread through Northwest side home of a hoarder. This homeowner, according to new reports, routinely burnt "stuff" in his backyard. This time, somehow his house caught on fire. And the innocent dogs he kept paid a price, some with their lives. Like the things he hoarded, he also apparently hoarded dogs.
About 10 dogs were saved, but their conditions varied. Some were unconscious, many suffered smoke inhalation and all were terrified. Chicago firefighters and neighbors were heroic in their efforts to save lives. Oxygen masks specifically designed for pets were used to resuscitate some of the dogs. Estimates vary of the number of dogs who succumbed, at least one died.
The homeowner, a man believed to be in his 50s, had much of his clothing burned and was taken in serious-to-critical condition after the fire about 3 p.m. in the 5000 block of West Winona Avenue, said Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford. The homeowner was about to go back into the house when an off-duty firefighter came on the scene and kept him outside, Langford said. "He might not have made it back out," if the firefighter hadn't prevented him from going back in, Langford said.
Neighbors say they had complained about the hoarding, but authorities did nothing. If true, the result is that this homeowner may die, at least one dog died. The home is considered a total lost.
Volunteers from the neighborhood and Chicago Animal Care & Control are making arrangements to care for the injured animals, as well some local veterinarians and Wright Way Animal Rescue is reportedly involved as well.