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Eleven children were removed from a household after firefighters in Washington found them living in a home allegedly filled with trash and feces.
The Spokane Fire Department was responding to a report of a rubbish fire on Sunday, which it quickly extinguished in the home’s backyard, local outlet KREM2 reports.
However, firefighters say they were shocked that, when they entered the house to access the yard, they found it filled with “food, dog food, garbage, cigarette butts and animal feces throughout,” according to their reports, obtained by Law&Crime.They further alleged that the “entire residence” reeked of “feces and urine,” and that the kids were living in a “tragically unsafe, unsanitary and clearly inhumane” environment.
One firefighter wrote that the home was an “excessive hoarder situation with garbage piled not only in the back yard but also in the house.”
While much of the feces in the home was described as belonging to animals, firefighters noted that there was "what appeared to be human feces" in the bathtub, KREM2 reports.
The children — the youngest of which was only six months — were described as being in various states of malnourishment.
The firefighters also stated that they “struggled due to the shock of the reality” of the situation.
While the fire was still burning, firefighters put some of the children from inside the home in cars to stay warm. All were eventually taken via ambulance to a pediatric emergency room at Spokane’s Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center for evaluation of both their "current physical and mental state,” the reports say.
Police stated that nobody has been arrested.
Julie Humphreys, Public Safety Communication Manager for the Spokane Police & Fire told Oxygen.com via email on Thursday that the children have been placed in Child Protective Services and that “the priority in this case was the safety of the children, which was the reason they were removed from the home.”
Humphreys added that “police determined the environment did pose a risk to the children.”
But she specified that does not always equate to criminal charges.
“Determining whether criminal charges against the adults responsible for the children are warranted is not a simple process,” Humphreys stated. “It’s not illegal to have a filthy home. We need to look at whether or not the children were denied the basic necessities of life, not just was there a risk they were denied those necessities.”
A member of a family who told KREM2 that they reported the fire and assisted in helping the kids stay warm told the outlet, “They were very, very sweet kids. The oldest child said to me, ‘God moves in mysterious ways,’ and she said she believes that we saved their lives.”
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