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Fire Damage

Fire Causes

Fire Causes

Fires destroy property—that includes buildings, furniture, clothing, valuables, important papers and other business and personal property. In the United States in 2016, fire departments responded to over a million fires in which over 15,000 people were injured or killed, including firefighters. Leading causes of fires in homes are cooking related, especially unattended cooking. Frying foods poses the greatest risk of fire, and more than half of injuries from cooking fires happened when people tried to fight the fire themselves. Other fires resulted from electrical hazards such as heating equipment like space heaters. Wood stoves are also up high on the list of causes of fires.

Smoking remains the leading cause of home fire deaths, resulting from fires in upholstery and beds. But, about half of all fires reported were outside—grass, brush, or forest fires, in addition to rubbish fires—, some of these leading to fires in home and business structures.

Effects of Fire

Smoke Removal

The effect is tremendous damage, not only to the area burned, but to everything around it. A fire brings with it—if the fire department is called or if your fire sprinklers were activated—lots of water damage. On top of that damage is the smoke damage to the structure. It can cause sticky, toxic deposits on objects and pungent, poisonous odors in the air, even in areas not affected by the fire itself. This is because hot smoke migrates to cooler areas, through doorways, and even through the pipes in plumbing systems, from floor to floor. Then, there is the damage from fuel oil soot, ash, and fire extinguisher residue, as well as that caused by short circuits in the electrical system, producing chemical hazards. Not a pretty picture!

Cleaning & Repair

Cleaning & Repair

Immediate action is a major part of the solution. It will also help reduce both soot and smoke health hazards. First of all, all of the fire-damaged materials and debris will have to be cleaned up, packed up, removed, and stored if necessary. Specialized cleaners are needed to remove oily debris from all surfaces. Expert water removal and drying techniques are needed to remove sometimes hundreds of gallons of water left after the fire has been extinguished. The fire and smoke damaged areas will need to be tested for toxic gases. And, materials that remove smoke odor and soot from indoor areas will have to be used to clean valuables such as documents, books, electronics, and artwork. We are prepared to cleanse your home, remove the debris and reconstruct whatever needs doing. Contact us for a consultation.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do fire damages differ?

Since all homes and businesses have different furniture, electronics, appliances, and even chemicals stored, all fires burn differently and leave different types of residues. This necessitates using different methods for cleaning up what’s left after a fire, including the smoke residue. There are three basic types of fire damage, based on what is burned:

  1. Protein residue—Proteins like meat, cheese, eggs, etc., make a greasy mess when burned.
  2. Natural substance residue—These products, such as wood, paper, books and other natural substances turn black and gray when burned.
  3. Synthetic substance residue—When plastic or plastic derivatives burn, they become a smeary mess.

Each of these types of fire damage creates smoke residue that floats in the air and can cause allergic reactions or even be poisonous. Smoke particles can be as small as .004 microns and can go anywhere in the structure, including inside walls. Each of these particles causes a smoke odor, and unless they are carefully removed, the odor may linger. Professional fire damage experts have solutions for these problems. Be sure to get help.

What can we do before the fire damage professionals arrive?

Once you have called for help from a professional restoration company, there are some things you can do to prepare:

  1. Get as much smoke and water out of the building as possible.
  2. Remove wet carpet to avoid damage to flooring, and put pieces of hardwood under all objects in the building to avoid mold growth and permanent staining.
  3. Place commercial dehumidifiers in each room to start removing moisture.
  4. Don’t start cleaning walls. It takes expert attention to avoid more damage.
  5. To prevent corrosion, put Vaseline on metal objects.
  6. Don’t throw anything away, even food. The insurance company needs to evaluate your losses and pay you for them.
Can we clean up the fire and smoke damage ourselves?

You can’t, unless it’s a very small fire. Many problems arise when fires are larger and more complex. One problem comes from smoke residues mixing. Special chemicals and cleaning processes must be used to clean up these messy mixes effectively—something that the experts know how to do. Another problem arises when you get something so that it looks clean, but the smoke order remains. It can be hiding in the walls, cabinets, under the carpets, and in the ceiling. It’s tricky to get it out of these places, and again, takes special expertise.

What do we do with food after a fire?

Don’t throw it out until the insurance adjuster has seen it and can evaluate its value for compensation. But, don’t eat it, either. Smoke has penetrated the food and left harmful carcinogens that will make you sick. Besides that, it won’t taste good.

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