By Jennifer Wilson
An explosion and fire destroyed a mobile home in Manitowoc late Thursday night.
At about 10 p.m., crews responded to Lakeland Manor Mobile Home Park on Waldo Boulevard for the report of an explosion in the rear of the home.
Authorities say the owner of the mobile home was able to get out safely. No one was hurt.
It took firefighters about an hour to put out the flames. They said fighting the fire was difficult because the owner had a lot of items in the home, some stacked up to the windows. Blocking doorways, items had to be removed from the home to create a path.
The cause of the explosion is under investigation.
Firefighters say the sheer amount of "stuff" in the home made fighting the fire more difficult and more dangerous. And it's a problem fire departments are seeing more often.
"We had a fire here in Oshkosh three or four weeks ago in a house that was exceptionally full of debris and accumulation of trash," Mark Boettcher, a battalion chief with the Oshkosh Fire Department, said.
It's what firefighters call "a large fire load," and it causes the fire to grow bigger, faster.
"It's very difficult to fight a fire because it's hard for us to move around," Boettcher said.
While there are no official records of how many fire calls involve excessive clutter, Boettcher says it seems to be happening more.
"I think we see it more often than we have in the past," he said. "At least, it's more evident here lately."
"Throughout the 12 years I have seen a variety of issues regarding home conditions," Natalie Vandeveld, who works for the Outagamie County Health Department, said.
Besides the extreme fire danger, disease is another danger. Vandeveld tries to reach out and help residents.
"Definitely gaining access to the home has been a challenge," she said.
She says hoarding is triggered by other issues. It's a sensitive topic but a dangerous problem that friends and family shouldn't be afraid to address.
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