We seem to have five seasons in Idaho; Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer and Smoke. Whenever there is a good sized fire near homes and other occupied buildings, we get a lot of calls about cleaning up when it’s over and when do I need a professional fire damage restorer?
|Photo By Steve Dondero|
Let’s start off with some basics. Not all fires are the same. Often, in the case of a fire actually in a home or other building, there are plastics, nylon, paints, coatings and other synthetic materials as well as wood and paper that are completely or partially combusted. This can leave some pretty difficult residues to deal with as well as physical damage to walls, ceilings, furnishing and other finishes. We like to think that this is a job for a restoration company with equipment, experience and training to successfully assess, remove, repair, replace, restore and (sometimes most importantly) deodorize a building so it can be occupied without discomfort.
Actually one of the most difficult smoke/fire events to successfully restore is the eggs, beans, turkey or whatever that gets left on or in the oven and ends up being deposited as a nasty smelly protein residue on everything throughout a house. It is the one of the most commonly screwed up restoration projects there are, because the damage is difficult to see and too often is not removed because it is too much labor. Instead efforts are concentrated on covering up with sweet smelling foo-foo juice (save money on labor) and it means starting over to make it come out right.
When there are wildfires, there are obviously physical damages that occur to structures. All too often the building is completely destroyed, but there are heat and fire damage to roofs, decks,exterior surfaces, windows and furnishings. There may also be heavy ash residues on the building as well. Again, we think this probably is a job for super restorer to put things back like they were before the fire.
We also see a fairly new phenomena that requires removing the foam and retardants that are either purposely or accidentally applied to exteriors of buildings to prevent actual fire damage. Again, we suggest a call to super restorer to bring things back to normal and make sure the mess isn’t just made worse by well intentioned, but untrained responders.
The difference between a wildfire and a typical structure fire is the type of residues that remain when it’s over. With wildfire, the primary (if not only) material combusted is cellulosic (e.g., trees, grass, sagebrush) and the combustion is often complete. The remaining residues are ash that blows in the wind. As much as it pains me to say it, often times addressing the odor and cleanup of the remains of a wildfire in a house doesn’t really call for special powers of super restorer. While they may be labor intensive, the trick is executing simple cleaning techniques very well.
First of all, the odor is much more transient and associated with that dry ash residue. We know that bringing home a sleeping bag from a camping trip that has that campfire odor is often corrected by simply providing some ventilation on the clothesline before rolling it up and putting it away. A dose of “out with the bad air, in with the good”. Similarly, the majority of the smell associated with a wildfire is transient as well and while we can’t hang our house on the clothes line, other ventilation will go a long way toward curing what ails a house as well. A few changes of the filter on the furnace, opening the windows (when the wind isn’t blowing ash around) and the passage of a few days can make many of the pungent odors that seem to be everywhere a thing of the past.
The next step is removing the residues. Success typically involves simple everyday cleaning techniques like dry vacuuming, dusting and wiping down horizontal and vertical surfaces. We all understand that when the wind blows, even without ash from a wildfire, residues (dust) end up getting things dirty again. With all the extra residue (ash), the effect is certainly magnified, but the result is not so much damage as just a need for stepped up housecleaning.
Most of us have dodged the bullet as far as actual structural damage. We can be thankful for some heroic efforts of firefighters from all over the state and the country for making this more of a big campfire than the property damage catastrophe that it could have been. If you need a professional super restorer or are unsure if you do or don’t, please feel free to give us a call. We will give you the benefit of our experience in making an honest assessment of how best to address your situation. If appropriate, we will provide our best super restorer skill to help you get back to normal. You can also find tips under “FAQ and Insurance Claims” at our website
We may be visited by some folks from out of town looking for work when this is over as well. Its a good idea to always remember to be careful when speaking to strangers.