‘It was awful’: Woman rescues children living in ‘hoarder conditions’ in east central
SPOKANE, Wash. — What started as a backyard fire has now turned into a child abuse investigation. Firefighters found 11 children in deplorable conditions on Sunday afternoon.
The home is near Sixth and Crestline in East Central. Firefighters found feces, garbage and other safety hazards inside. A plume of smoke was next to the house and it could be seen by the Blackburn family driving on I-90.
They followed the smoke and ended up at the home. Alyssa Blackburn’s dad started banging on the door.
“The lady who was in the house would not open the door,” Blackburn said. “She was talking at my dad through the door.”
Blackburn says someone else came and started kicking the door until a woman opened it.
“Kids started piling out. There were about 11 kids, I believe,” Blackburn said. “The kids were in terrible condition. They were very cold. Didn’t have the best hygiene.”
The children escaped a fire that started in the backyard.
“I was absolutely shocked by how many children were in that house with a fire going on and nobody would open the door,” Blackburn explained. “It was awful.”
All the kids got carried out and put into Blackburn’s truck. She did not know what the children were leaving behind.
Firefighters initially found eight children in the home between the ages of six months and 12 years old, according to a fire department’s report.
“The children were dirty,” the lieutenant wrote. “What clothing they had was in poor condition and dirty also. The children appeared malnourished. Several of the children were barely clothed.”
One firefighter’s narrative says that when he went into the home, he “immediately noticed living conditions that were unsafe, unhealthy and untenable for the children living there.” He reports finding “food, dog food, garbage, cigarette butts and animal feces throughout” the immediate living area.
Firefighters then describe finding a kitchen that had piles of dishes, garbage, old food and items stored on the stovetop, which they noted as a fire hazard.
“Again, the floor was covered in garbage and animal feces, and there was even feces spread on the wall in the kitchen,” the fire department report says.
Blackburn says seeing the children in her truck was emotional.
“I immediately broke down and started crying. My dad started crying,” she said. “My mom was just as heartbroken as we all were. It was definitely completely unexpected.”
The children were taken to Sacred Heart to get checked out and are safe tonight. Blackburn says the whole situation is hard to process emotionally, but is thankful the kids are safe.
“I think it was a blessing in disguise for those children,” she said. “It’s definitely taken a toll mentally on me and my family just experiencing something like that.”
Spokane Police says the investigation is ongoing and no one has been arrested or charged yet in the child abuse investigation. 4 News Now reached out to CPS and they said they cannot comment on “case-specific details.”
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