'Crazy Rats' Infest Arizona Neighborhood After Resident Known for Hoarding Is Found Dead

Authorities said "the ground was moving when they finally got into the house," one neighbor recalled

One Arizona neighborhood has been besieged by rats after a woman was found dead in her home earlier this month.

On Sept. 23, Megam Lorts said she called the police after noticing a strong smell coming from her next-door neighbor's house, as well as the appearance of an alarming number of rats, according to CBS station KPHO.

Upon arrival, first responders had to use a robot and drone as they were not immediately able to get inside the home belonging to the woman, who was a known hoarder, reported Fox affiliate KSAZ.

"Peoria Fire Medical and @peoriapoliceaz had a hazardous situation this morning," the Peoria Fire-Medical Department wrote on Facebook alongside a video showing the crew fully dressed in safety gear while a drone flew overhead.

"Conditions in the home were extremely bad," they added.

Another local resident, Justin Grubb, told KSAZ that an officer described the situation as "one of the worst things he's ever seen in 30 years on the service."

"He said the ground was moving when they finally got into the house," Grubb added.

The victim, whose body was already decomposed when police arrived, was identified as a woman in her 60s, according to KSAZ.

Officials told the outlet that the Peoria Fire-Medical Department regularly responded to medical calls at the residence and believe she likely died of natural causes.

The Peoria Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

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The neighborhood has since been dealing with an infestation of "hundreds" of rats.

"I think there's a thousand of them in there," neighbor Megan Lorts told KPHO. "They are crazy rats. And they're all coming out now because they're not afraid. They're hungry."

A lingering foul odor also remains.

"It's still a really, really bad smell," added Lorts. "It's enough to hold your nose when you walk by."

As for what's next, local officials are working to resolve the problem, but warn it's going to take some time.

"We've been trying to reach contractors — it's taken us until today to find one," City of Peoria Human Services Director Chris Hallett told KSAZ earlier this week.

A city spokesperson told KPHO that a hazmat team has been contracted to start boarding up the home and that traps and poison will fix the infestation after about a week. Then, they'll start work on cleaning out the residence.

The Arizona Humane Society told KSAZ they will go to the area on Wednesday to "humanely trap as many of these animals as we can, so they can be evaluated and given the best chance at survival."

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