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Police: Hoarding situation in fatal Depew fire

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Buffalo: Police: Hoarding situation in fatal Depew fire
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A Depew man is dead, after a fire tore through his mobile home Friday evening. Police say the man was literally trapped inside his cluttered home.

YNN's Kate McGowan spoke with neighbors who remain in shock over what happened.


DEPEW, N.Y. -- Charred debris, garbage, and piles of newspaper dated back decades ago. That's what sits outside this burned out mobile home.

"I don't know how somebody can live like this, I really don't. It's just unbelievable how much stuff," said a nearby neighbor.

Around 9 p.m. on Friday, firefighters were called to the Cayuga Village Mobile Home Park in Depew for a trailer on fire. Whey they arrived, they said flames were visible and smoke was pouring out.

Once neighbors told them that a man may be trapped inside, their rescue efforts picked up.

Detective Scott Hossfeld of Depew Police said, "Two of the assistant fire chiefs tried to make entry in order to perform rescue but as they attempted to enter, they came across a bunch of clutter, debris, old newspapers and their access was hampered. Couldn't get in any farther than arms reach."

Police said the man's belongings were piled so high in his trailer that in some areas, it reached the ceiling. They said that made it challenging to try and rescue him.

"Newspapers, cans and every piece of garbage he got rid of and just threw it in to his living room and stuff," said a neighbor.

It's what police are calling a hoarding situation. Due to the amount of clutter, firefighters could not reach the man in time.

Brian Swiniarski, 61, died in his bedroom.

"We knew he had a lot of stuff but we didn't realize until last night, how much," said resident, Bobbie Luedke.

Neighbors said Swiniarski lived there quite some time but kept to himself.

"Never saw him in the three months that I was here," a neighbor exclaimed.

They said their thoughts go out to his family, who police said live in Rochester.

The owner of the trailer park said the man's furnace was shut off and he was using space heaters and propane heaters to keep warm. Firefighters do not know at this time if a faulty heater may be to blame.

Luedke added, "Just a sad situation."

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