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Fire Damage Overview

Fires are dreadful, dreadful occurrences that we all prefer to avoid. While it’s true that merely surviving a fire is an incredible feat unto itself, it becomes necessary afterward to deal with potential losses. The sad truth is that even a small fire can cause unbelievable quantities of damage to your home and belongings.

Before we talk more in-depth about fire damage, however, we must first understand the concept of smoke.

Understanding Smoke

A fire burns things. What then is smoke? It is basically the residue generated when certain particles like carbon fail to burn. The type of smoke produced depends on the type of objects that burn:

  • Plastics
  • Fabrics
  • Food Items
  • Antiques
  • Books
  • Appliances/Electronics
  • Construction Materials
  • Synthetic Materials
  • Rubber Products
  • Oil/Petroleum Products
  • Paint/Paint Thinners

Why is this important? The type of smoke produced will affect the type of damage your home suffers. As an example, when plastics and synthetic materials burn, the smoke they generate leaves both a horrible odor and a disgusting oily black residue. When cotton, paper or wood products burn, on the other hand, they leave a more natural odor, as well as a more powdery residue.

To properly deal with such damage, you must therefore be able to identify the smoke. You also must know how to properly deal with its damage. A wide arsenal of tools and equipment exist for dealing with the damage — special chemicals, ozone generators, etc. Many of these are not available for consumer purchase. The point is that dealing with smoke damage requires the assistance of trained professionals.

Understanding The Restoration & Repair Process

The last section introduced you to smoke. The goal was to get across that damage occurs not only from the fire itself, but from the smoke as well. And unfortunately, dealing with this damage requires the right equipment and experience. The question still remains — what exactly occurs during the restoration process?


The first step involves the ventilation of smoke and extraction of water. The goal is to make the home safe for entry again. Remember to never, ever re-enter your home after a fire until a trained professional first examines it. Countless unsafe materials can wind up leaking all over the place, which is why safety must be maintained.


After your home is safe for re-entry, the cleanup process begins. This usually involves using specialized vacuum cleaners and dry cleaning sponges to remove chemical residue and dry soot. It’s important to wear the proper OSHA-required protective clothing (goggles, boots, etc.) during this process, lest you hurt yourself.


Next up comes the salvage of items like clothes, carpets, furniture, paintings, books and more. This can involve sweeping away debris, utilizing certain chemicals and much, much more. Unless you happen to be a chemicals expert, we recommend allowing the fire restoration company to do all the work.

Thermal Deodorization / Ozone Treatments

Last but not least, you need to remove the horrible smell. There are two methods for doing this — thermal deodorization and ozone treatments. The first is not recommend, as it uses very high temperatures to get rid of the smell. The more commonly used method involves generating huge quantities of a smell-consuming oxidizer.

The Implications of Not Taking Action

The most important and undeniable truth about fire damage is that it must be dealt with immediately. This means more than just putting out the fire. It means getting rid of the water, cleaning up the smoke and then restoring everything that was damaged.

While the steps outlined might sound easy, there are so many contingencies that you must take into consideration. Suppose for instance that smoke gets into your home’s air ducts and ventilation shafts. What if you overlook this? The leftover particles from the smoke will inevitably make their way back into your HVAC singer and then eventually into your lungs.

The simple truth is that everything that’s involved — from extracting the water to cleaning up the soot, restoring your property, removing the smell and dealing with all possible contingencies — is best left to the professionals! Simply put, there are just some things in like not meant for the DIY community, and fire damage is one of them!

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