Update: Hoarding issue in fatal Beloit house fire

By: Britni McDonald Email
By: Britni McDonald Email

UPDATED Tuesday, August 5, 2014-- 5:40 p.m.

A Beloit man is dead after being trapped in a basement that caught fire.

It wasn't a lack of exits with two doors and a large window. The problem here is the amount of items kept in the basement where the man lived. The fire investigator says it comes down to a case of hoarding.

"I smelled smoke and I thought, there must be a fire over there," said Jeanette Rochester.

Jeanette Rochester has lived across the street from the Jenks on Grant Street for about 30 years. Their son, 53-year-old Thomas Jenks, had been living in the basement.

"He'd be out doing yard work helping his parents," said Rochester.

He was sleeping when it caught fire around 3:00 Tuesday morning.

"This window is almost right next to where he was. It actually blew out when the first people were arriving on scene," said Beloit fire investigator, Jeremy Flanagan.

Jenks didn't make it out in time.

"He was on his way towards the back door and collaposed in the doorway," said Flanagan.

Flanagan said the cause was most likely electrical with several cords bundled together.

"Don't string an extention cord to another one to another those will generate heat," said Flanagan.

But the piles of items is what made the rescue and attempted escape difficult.

"For him to get out would have been confusing. You're already out of sorts from the smoke from the effeects from smoke inhilation and then you're trying to get through an obstacle course. It's not easy," said Flanagan.

Hoarding like this, Flanagan says, is becoming a bigger issue.

"The more things you have piled in your house the more difficult it is for us to get to you and for those people to get out safely," said Flanagan.

The damage is estimated at 10 to 20 thousand dollars. The man's parents who also lived here now being helped by the red cross.

Thomas' parents weren't injured and returned to the home Tuesday afternoon to assess the damage. They didn't want to be on camera.

Flanagan says this serves as a reminder to keep your doors and outlets clear.


Courtesy: Information from our affiliate WIFR in Rockford, IL

Posted: Tuesday, August 5, 2014 --- 7:28 a.m.

BELOIT (WIFR) -- One person is dead after being trapped in a basement of a Beloit home on that was on fire.

Fire crews were called to a home in the 1900 block of Grant Street around 3 a.m. Tuesday. Upon arrival, fire fighters noticed large flames coming from one of the basement windows.

Three people inside the home when the fire began. Firefighters discovered one of those people was trapped in a bedroom in the basement. Firefighters say they were able to get the victim out of the home but the victim was later pronounced dead.
The name of the victim has not been released pending family notification. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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