Can clutter really kill? Seriously?
Now you may think, “Hold on there! Aren’t you being a little over-the-top dramatic?”
Read the following story and then answer that question:
Press & Sun-Bulletin — Binghamton, NY
JOHNSON CITY — An elderly village woman was found dead Tuesday night in her smoke-filled Fowler Avenue house, which was choked to the ceiling with rubbish.
“The house was filled with a tremendous amount of debris,” said Johnson City Fire Chief Stephen Hrustich. That made it difficult for firefighters to fight the smoky fire at 33 Fowler Ave., the chief said.
“Clothing, other items, everything and anything you’d find on the street,” filled the residence, Hrustich said.
At one point, firefighters used a chainsaw to cut a hole in the side of the 1 1/2- story, green Cape Cod to get into the house. The doors and windows of the residence were block with debris.
After gaining entry, it took firefighters an hour of fighting their way through debris to locate the woman’s body — eventually discovered in the living room.
The fire was knocked down about five minutes after firefighters arrived, Hrustich said.
Debris was piled in front of the windows on both floors of the house. The front door was blocked and inaccessible, Hrustich said. “That made is considerably harder to get the fire out,” he said.
Fire investigators believe the fire, called in at 7:27 p.m., may have started in the kitchen. The cause remains under investigation, Hrustich said.
Property records identify the owner of the house as Josephine Govericki. Hrustich said the victim, whom he would not identify until relatives are notified, was in her 80s and lived alone.
Govericki was quiet and kind, a neighbor said.
“She was the sweetest neighbor anyone could have,” said Jennifer Moses, who lives across the street from Govericki. “I’m so sad about this. The neighborhood won’t be the same without her.”
Govericki would prepare special Halloween treat bags for Moses’ children, she said. She also would help out with work around the yard. Govericki used to meticulously clean the street and sidewalk of fallen leaves, Moses said.
Neighbors could see some debris around the entryway of the house, but it wasn’t until Tuesday’s fire that they could tell that the house was packed full of stuff, visible through the windows broken by firefighters to enter the residence, Moses said.
More than 25 firefighters were on the scene, including firefighters from Johnson City, Endicott and Endwell, Hrustich said. The house sustained moderate damage in the fire.
If that doesn’t motivate you to get out your timer and get to work, then I don’t know what will. We don’t have to wait for it to become serious. Let’s do it now with humor and an “I can do this” attitude!
One room at a time.
One box at a time.
One pile at a time.
One piece at a time.