Organizer talks hazards of hoarding

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Hoarding proved to be deadly in Pekin, Illinois, where a fire claimed the lives of two people who couldn’t be rescued because of all the items in their home.

When she's not de-cluttering someone's closet, professional organizer Mona Brantley is helping to save a life by breaking the habits of a hoarder.

"Oftentimes, they're not letting their family members in and they're not letting their friends in,” said Brantley. “So, it’s important for me to be able to come in and say 'Ok, here are some safety issues."

Blocked stairs, blocked windows and blocked doors can all be hazards, the latter of which was the case in Pekin, where Sam and Barbara Garland were killed in a fire Sunday.

Fire crews had to bulldoze their home in order to get inside.

"You couldn't even get in the door,” said Brian Cox, Deputy Fire Chief for the Pekin Fire Department. From what I understand, the upstairs of the house was just packed with stuff."

The elderly couple was living in the basement because they couldn't get to the upper floors.

Family members call the home a death trap.

"They collected a lot and it was a disease and the house sparked up and they got trapped," said Brittney Garland, their granddaughter.

Mona says it oftentimes takes family members getting involved to get hoarders the help they need.

Also, she says, it’s important to get to the root of the problem through therapy.

"We can clear out everything in their house. We can make their home look spotless. But, if their head is still cluttered, they'll go right back to those old habits."

If you’re interested in de-cluttering or have a hoarding problem, you can contact Mona at

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