Cluttered Homes Put Tulsa Residents, Firefighters At Risk

Monday, February 2nd 2015, 7:08 pm
By: News On 6

One common problem emergency responders face is too much stuff piled up inside a home. Clutter has been an issue in two fires in the past week.

This house near 81st and Memorial went up in flames Saturday night. On Monday, much of what was inside, like clothes and toys, is now out on the driveway.

It might not seem like much, but firefighters say storing too much of anything in your home, puts you at a higher risk of not just a fire, but not making it out alive.

1/31/2014 Related Story: Fire Burns Tulsa Home; Residents Evacuate Safely

From fire hoses to air packs, firefighters have to bring quite a bit of gear inside when fighting a house fire.

"If it's in disarray - we knock things over and before you know it we are tangled up and trapped, so it can make our job much more dangerous then it already is," said Captain Josh Rutledge, Tulsa Fire Department.

Captain Josh Rutledge was one of the first to respond to a fire that destroyed a home near Peoria and King last weekend.

Tulsa Firefighters took 18 dogs out of the home and had to work around quite a bit of stuff piled up inside.

1/24/2015 Related Story: Up To 18 Dogs Taken From Tulsa Home During House Fire

On Saturday firefighters faced a similar issue battling the house fire near 81st and Memorial.

"Sometimes it's just the amount of general household items. Sometimes it's piled all the way up to the ceiling, and sometimes there are only small trails to get around inside," Rutledge said.

Firefighters encounter it so much, they even have a special word for these kind of homes.

"We call them path houses. There is a path to get to get the front door, to the bathroom and the kitchen. You can just imagine, there's just stuff everywhere," said Captain Captain Josh Rutledge, TFD.

For many it's a true mental health disorder. According to Life Senior Services Behavior Health consultant Mary Hardy the problem of clutter and disorganization affects more than 35,000 people in Tulsa County.

"There is special meaning, so even things that we don't view as important and valuable, other people may, so it's a very delicate condition," Hardy said.

Hardy says most of the time, people have a hard time admitting they have a problem. Family members need to be on the look out for red flags.

"When you see the disorganization and the clutter interfering with the use of major areas like you can't use the kitchen counter or stove," said Behavior Health Consultant Mary Hardy of the clutter red flags.

A new 15-week course called Buried In Treasure is being offered right now in Tulsa for people who want to address their own clutter or family members who need help. The group will meet for fifteen one-and-a-half hour sessions over a 20-week time frame.

The class closes February 10. For more information call Life Senior Services at 918-664-9000 or write

Get More Information At Life Senior Services