[UPDATED with I.D.'s Confirmed:] Hoarding Cited as Hampering Firefighters at Home Where Author Died

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Dana Point Historical Society
Doris J. Walker-Smith
UPDATE, NOV. 1, 2:19 P.M.: The Orange County Register confirms that the couple killed in Sunday's fire in a cluttered home on Bremerton Street in Dana Point was Jack Pierson Smith and his wife, the author and Dana Point Historical Society founder Doris J. Walker-Smith.

"She is our very own award-winning historian, our connection to the past and our bridge to our future," community leader Jim Miller said of Walker-Smith at an October 2007 awards banquet honoring her as Dana Point Chamber of Commerce's Citizen of the Year.

ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 1, 10:53 A.M.: I don't know about you, but when I watch the reality show Hoarders, or even the pet hoarding version, I always wonder what would happen if someone set a match in a corner. If you're the type of person who is unaware until the cleaning crew arrives that a dead cat has been molding for years under a tattered love seat, you're likely to be as clueless about the stack of yellowing newspapers in the den smoldering.

Similar visions filled my head when checking the report about a Dana Point house fire that killed two people.

It took three hours and 35 firefighters to extinguish the fire that broke out in a one-story home on Bremerton Street. Fire investigators say there was so much stuff inside the place--milk crates, plastic containers and ceiling-high boxes and filing cabinets filled with books, papers and other materials--that personnel could not fight the blaze from the inside, hampering their efforts to put it out.

A man and a woman were pulled out of the house and rushed to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo. The man died shortly after he arrived, the woman perished Monday afternoon. Authorities have not identified the couple.

Property records show the home is owned by Jack Pierson Smith and Doris J. Walker-Smith founder of the Dana Point Historical Society, author of 12 books and a resident of Dana Point since 1963, the Register reports.

Neighbors had reportedly expressed concerns about hoarding conditions inside the home.

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Trishatwildomar
Trishatwildomar

I knew Jack and Doris for many years, and yes Jack had a problem with too much stuff. He had been a supply officer in the service and still had that mind set of buying everything in industrial bulk size thinking that it was a better deal. I was shocked but not surprised when I heard about the tragic fire. Jack had been losing his grasp on reality in normal day to day living. He had pulled in to the parking area outside my office awhile back and then just fell asleep in the car for several hours. Upon awaking he was very confused and disoriented at first then decided to drive home. My younger brother worked for Jack for quite awhile as handyman and general caretaker for Him and Doris keeping track of things for them all the while trying to convince Jack to clear out the clutter around his home. Actually that house was Doris's his house was about a quarter mile from there, a very large 2-story 3bdrm w/ double garage stuffed to the rafters with "things" no one lived in it it was just storage. 

Mroducla
Mroducla

It is incredibly sad.  They were sweet people.  Some neighbors had been aware of the hoarding issue and had requested of them and the city that something be done in order to avoid this very kind of tragedy, to no avail.  Our prayers are with their family.

Steve
Steve

How sad. I'll bet almost no one knew that her house was like that. One of them had a disease that ende up killing both of them.

kim
kim

They both had the disease. 

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