Richfield neighbors glad to see "hoarders'" home cleaned up

Sep 3, 2014 7:15 PM by Cecile Juliette

Harold Epple can't believe what he is seeing. "The garbage, the smell. I see all the junk, but as they're starting to clear it all's unreal. So much of it, it's overwhelming." He's lived at this on home on River Drive in Richfield for four years, and he says today was a long-time coming. "I didn't expect to see such a force here to get it all cleaned up...but I'm glad. I really am," he says.

Epple is standing in an orchard across from his home, watching the massive claw of a backhoe did in to a huge pile of trash at his next door neighbors' house, then drop it in to a waiting dump truck. When he moved in, he says he didn't look around at any of his neighbors' homes, until it was too late, when he realized the two brothers he who lived just yards from his fence were allowing large piles of trash, junked cars, and fire hazards gather in piles 10 feet high. He says he saw "garbage and cars and junk, and I'm going ‘jeeze, what'd I get into?'" Epple says he approached the brothers to see if they had a plan to rid their property of garbage, which was attracting rats, snakes, and flies. He says their response was, "This is our stuff. We keep it. And I go you don't throw anything away? And he goes it's none of your business this is our property."

He says the men don't have a working sewer, and he witnessed them using buckets for toilets and throwing their waste in their yard. He adds their garbage pile caught fire once before and destroyed more than a dozen cars parked around their yard.

Epple took his concerns to the Tehama County Department of Environmental Health. The property was deemed a fire, health and safety hazard, and the department obtained a nuisance abatement warrant. But executing it became more difficult than imagined. Director Tim Potanovic says The county had to secure a $60,000 grant from the state, which it has to pay back. The clean-up project is expected to last several days, and involves a maintenance crew, towing company, and removal equipment. The county must also pay the landfill to dump all the garbage. Potanovic says, "In 33 years on the job, I haven't seen anything this over-the-top. The gentlemen have been under our order to clean-up for last 4 years. We
really went to lengths to achieve voluntary compliance from property owners, but were unable to do so. So this is what it had to come down to." Says Potanovic, "It's safe to say this is one solid massive waste violation."

As for what the county plans to remove from the property, says Potanovic, "Everything goes. Everything goes. It's not fair to the environment."

Potanovic says the county will put a lein on the home, and the brothers must pay reimburse the county for the cost of clean-up.


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