Recent Fire Damage Posts
SERVPRO of Southeast Portland got an interesting call one day. A client in SE PDX called in about a home going on the market. Turns out upon checking into the homes history the client discovered the home had experienced a fire 10 years prior that was unknown to them. Doing a little more investigation the client found out that the home had fire/smoke remediation done for the fire that occurred. For reasons unknown to the client as well as ourselves the attic of said home had no remediation work done to it. For this specific case we went in did our initial inspection and discussed with the client potential work the can and should be done. With SERVPRO of Southeast Portland as a client you can always be reassured that there will be no stone left unturned when you call us do your job. Customer and client satisfaction is our number one priority.
The Reason Fire Damage Jobs Are Best Left to Professionals
Grease fire tore through the family room as well as kitchen.
A simple day turned into a horrible tragedy for a local family here in Southeast Portland when they experienced a grease fire that tore through half of their home. It caused extensive damage. In their time of need SERVPRO of Southeast Portland was there and ready to help. The family called us in and requested services immediately. Our team made the process as easy and simple for the family reassuring them along the way letting them know exactly what was needed and that SERVPRO of Southeast Portland would be there to help every step of the way. The before picture shows just a glimpse of the damage caused. When all the work was done the family couldn't have been more happier with SERVPRO of Southeast Portland and how their home was not only restored but improved making it "Like it never even happened."
Smoke Damage to a Local Church
This wall heater was one of the causes of damage. Multiple heaters in the church malfunctioned this day.
Wall heaters at a SE Portland Catholic church had a malfunction while running on a cold Portland weekday spewing out black smoke. Luckily the pastor was in his office at the time and caught it before a fire started. He turned the heater off and contacted his local firefighters. The firefighters cleared the church and made sure it was safe to return inside. From there their insurance agency recommended they give a call to SERVPRO of Southeast Portland for smoke remediation. Our team was out there within the hour doing the inspection to quickly start the remediation process. We got our equipment placed them throughout the structure starting the remediation, and got our techs to work. The entire process went by smoothly and the good people of the Catholic church couldn't stop their praises for the amazing work that SERVPRO of Southeast Portland had done.
Portland Smoke and Soot Cleanup
Smoke and soot is very invasive and can penetrate various cavities within your home, causing hidden damage and odor. Our smoke damage expertise and experience allows us to inspect and accurately assess the extent of the damage to develop a comprehensive plan of action.
Smoke and soot facts:
- Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
- Smoke flows around plumbing systems, seeping through the holes used by pipes to go from floor to floor.
- The type of smoke may greatly affect the restoration process.
Different Types of Smoke
There are two different types of smoke–wet and dry. As a result, there are different types of soot residue after a fire. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Southeast Portland will test the soot to determine which type of smoke damage occurred. The cleaning procedures will then be based on the information identified during pretesting. Here is some additional information:
Wet Smoke – Plastic and Rubber
- Low heat, smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Smoke webs are more difficult to clean.
Dry Smoke – Paper and Wood
- Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
Protein Fire Residue – Produced by evaporation of material rather than from a fire
- Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor.
Our Fire Damage Restoration Services
Since each smoke and fire damage situation is a little different, each one requires a unique solution tailored for the specific conditions. We have the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore your fire and smoke damage. We will also treat your family with empathy and respect and your property with care.
Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?
Call Us Today – (503) 427-9535
Why Immediate Fire Damage Restoration is So Important
When a fire occurs in a home, the aftermath can seem overwhelming, and if fire restoration is postponed, the destruction from smoke damage can become even worse. The longer you wait to address the damage, the more repairs you'll have to fix - which means you'll most likely have a larger bill for damages when all is said and done. You can avoid costly repairs and long-term issues if you make fire damage restoration a priority and follow the steps you'll need to get your home back to normal as soon as possible.
Contact a Fire Damage Restoration Service
First, and foremost - and this is the most important step - find a fire restoration contractor who can assess the damage, give you an estimate on costs and start the cleanup process. Contact your home insurance company to make them aware of the fire and ask them for referrals for reliable businesses in your area. It's essential that you enlist the help of a licensed and insured fire damage restoration company to reduce the risk of further damage to your home. They are trained to handle this type of damage and many will perform some of the following steps to help get you through the initial fire cleanup:
- Smoke and fire damage restoration services will try to save as many of your home and personal belongings (such as appliances, furniture and clothing) as they can.
- Document everything they remove from your home by taking pictures and/or keeping written records.
- Return any salvageable furniture and appliances back to your home, after the fire restoration is complete.
- Work quickly and carefully to get you back in your home as soon as possible, and stay in contact with you to make sure the repairs were done correctly and your home isn't experiencing any other problems.
Be sure to go through your home insurance company when hiring a fire damage restoration service, or do a thorough background check if you choose one on your own to make sure they are licensed and insured. Be wary of “fire chasing” contractors who target victims of house fires and pressure them into signing expensive repair contracts, perform extremely low-quality repair work and might not be licensed or insured.
Start Fire Cleanup Right Away
While it's best to have a qualified fire restoration company like SERVPRO of Southeast Portland handle the smoke damage restoration, there are some small tasks you can do to help minimize the initial damage before the professionals come in to do the major cleanup. Remember that safety comes first, so if there’s no way to safely gain access into your home, then stay out until the professionals arrive. If it is possible to enter your house, make sure you’re wearing work gloves, long sleeves/pants, and proper respiratory protection, such as a mask because exposure to soot can cause respiratory problems and other medical issues.
- VENTILATION - Open all the windows and air out the house as much (and as often) as possible. Use box fans to force out dust and contaminated air. Fire damage restoration professionals will use industrial-strength fans and other air-moving equipment to help reduce the smoke damage your home has been subjected to, but in the meantime, proper ventilation is key to helping remove a lot of the polluted (and unsafe) air.
- CLEANING - Scrub all surfaces (and inside cabinets and drawers) with soap and water. You can also use an alkaline cleaner, which neutralizes the acid that’s found in soot to help cut down on the smoky smell. Counteractants—chemicals used to break up smoke molecules to eliminate odors—may be used, but it’s best left to the professionals to handle such products.
- LAUNDRY - Wash all bedding, clothing, curtains and items that can be machine washed with an alkaline cleaner (you may have to wash items more than once). Delicate fabrics will need to be professionally dry cleaned by someone who is familiar with articles that have smoke damage. Only use washers and dryers that haven’t been exposed to smoke or experienced significant fire damage.
Professional smoke removal and restoration companies will perform a thorough cleanup using industrial-grade products and equipment, such as dry cleaning soot sponges to remove loose soot and specialized vacuum filters to clean carpet and upholstery.
Prolonged Smoke Damage
Fire damage is tricky because some signs are apparent—such as discoloration on walls and ceilings and dark stains from smoke on surfaces—but others are not, such as odors trapped in hidden places. Air conditioner vents, the space behind walls and the outside walls of your home are all areas where ash and soot can be deposited and continue to cause damage if they aren't taken care of in a timely manner.
Make sure to have the HVAC system, attic/roof, and exterior walls inspected and properly cleaned, too, because your home will continue to suffer from smoke damage until the soot is completely removed by a fire damage restoration service, like SERVPRO of Southeast Portland. Don't hesitate to call us to handle your fire or smoke damage! (503) 427-9535
What To Do After a Fire
After a Fire
The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.
- Contact your local disaster relief service. if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
- If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
- Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
- The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
- Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
- Try to locate valuable documents and records. Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
- Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
- Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
Give SERVPRO of Southeast Portland a call at (503) 427-9535 to assist with any fire damage restoration needs.
Tips to Prevent a Home Fire
Prevent Home Fires
Home fires are preventable! The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy.
- Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
- Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
- Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet around the stove.
- Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Smoke outside and completely stub out butts in an ashtray or a can filled with sand.
- Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
- Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
- Be alert - don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.
Electrical and Appliance Safety
- Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
- If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
- Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.
Portable Space Heaters
- Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
- Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
- Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
- Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.
Fireplaces and Woodstoves
- Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
- Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
- Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.
- Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
- Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
- Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.
More Prevention Tips
- Never use stove range or oven to heat your home.
- Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
- Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.
Why You Should Leave Smoke Damage Removal to a Professional
Smoke damage removal is one of the most difficult aspects of a house fire. It is also one of the most important tasks you need to tackle after a fire has damaged your home, and it is essential that you begin smoke damage removal immediately after a house fire to restore your home to its former state. However, entering your home to begin smoke damage removal after a house fire is usually unsafe, as it is likely your home’s structure has sustained fire and water damage. Therefore, you should always leave smoke damage removal to a professional restoration company, as they have the proper equipment, expertise, and experience to handle this task. To understand why it is necessary to leave this task to a professional, it can be helpful to know some information about the equipment and expertise required to implement smoke damage removal successfully.
Smoke Damage Removal Requires Special Equipment
One of the biggest reasons that smoke damage removal is not something you should do yourself is that it usually requires special, industrial-grade equipment to remove it from your home effectively. Smoke often seeps into the walls of your home and can cause future health issues if not removed properly. The best method for removing smoke odor from your home is with thermal fogging, a technique professionals use that works by opening the pores in your walls and neutralizing the smoke odor hidden within them. This combined with dehumidifiers to dry any water damage and ozone generators to help get the smoky smell out of your home is an effective method professionals use to make your home smoke-free. Depending on the extent of the damage to your home, it is likely the restoration company may need to repaint the walls and ceilings in your home after the smoke damage removal process is complete.
Smoke Damage Removal Requires Certain Expertise
In addition to requiring special equipment to remove smoke from your home thoroughly, smoke damage removal also requires a professional to have certain expertise about the different types of smoke and the necessary chemicals to remove them. For example, the smoke odor from wood can react differently to certain cleaning products than smoke odor from plastics, which means you could damage your home further if you do not know which type of smoke residue and odor you are dealing with. Professional fire restoration companies know details about the different types of smoke and how to deal with them properly, which means they are your best resource for cleaning, repairing, and restoring your home to its original state.
Smoke damage removal is one of the most frustrating and difficult tasks homeowners must deal with after a house fire. It requires much time, effort, and expertise, and is something you should always leave to a professional restoration company. For more information about smoke damage removal or finding the best professional to handle it for you, it is a good idea to contact a fire damage contractor.
Why You Should Get Fire Damage Estimates
After a house fire, getting fire damage estimates is critical. Without knowing the full extent of the damage, you may end up overspending on repairs or restoration. Either your homeowners’ insurance company or a third-party restoration company can provide the fire damage estimates for you. After a devastating event like a house fire, it is helpful to know just how much money you have to repair or restore your home to its former state. Since you should hire a restoration company anyway, fire damage estimates make the task of doing so much easier.
Discrepancies in Fire Damage Estimates
If your insurance company and third-party restoration company have a discrepancy in their fire damage estimates, one of two things are likely to happen: they can agree to a middle ground or begin arbitration. Choosing the middle ground option is a compromise of sorts and may include any number of outcomes, which are all dependent on the specifics of your situation. The other option involves including a third party, having them inspect and formulate an appraisal of the damage, and present that as an acceptable value. All of this depends heavily on your insurance company, the restoration company, applicable state laws, and the circumstances surrounding the fire.
What Fire Damage Estimates Do
Fire damage estimates allow you and your hired full-service restoration company to plan the restoration of your home. By having an effective budget, the company can do their best for you and make sure that they can return your home to its former. Most importantly, fire damage estimates include services that restoration companies do that you are unable to, such as removing smoke odors from your home or rebuilding any structures that the fire has damaged. Other costs that require professional help, such as special dry-cleaning of your garments and fabrics, may also be included. Additionally, if you attempt the repairs and accidentally cause more damage, chances are that the insurance does not cover the extra damage, whereas with a restoration company, it is covered.
Fire damage estimates allow a professional full-service restoration company to restore your home to its former state in the most effective manner possible. With a clear plan on which services you need, how much they cost, and how the company implements them, they can cater to your individual needs. After a devastating event such as a fire, money should not be your primary concern. A full-service restoration company can take care of all aspects regarding the remediation of the fire damage so you can concentrate on other things. For more information about fire damage estimates for your home, contact your insurance company.
Fire and Smoke
Smoke damage can appear in two forms. In the case of a slow, smoldering fire, the resulting smoke residue (soot) will be sticky, wet and strong smelling. Wet soot has an oily texture that stains carpets, furniture and any cloth furnishings in the house. A fast burning fire, however, leaves behind dry soot that smears and stains less—but the dry soot often becomes damp due to the moisture from the fire hose. Smoke damage remediation involves the use of industrial-strength vacuuming to suck up the soot without smearing it. Attempting to brush off soot only embeds it deeper into the fabric. As the pros vacuum the room, each area is covered with a drop cloth to protect it. Smoke odor, on the other hand, lingers in fabrics and is not as straightforward to remove. Professional cleaners use different chemicals to break down smoke molecules. Other methods including ozone treatment and applying specially formulated paint that seals up the source of smoke odor.
With Fire Damage, Comes Water Damage
anyone who has been through a fire knows that where there’s smoke, there’s water—and lots of it after firefighters have finished battling a blaze. The key to salvaging your belongings from water damage and preventing mold is to act quickly to begin the process of removing the moisture from your carpets, furniture and walls. Professionals use mobile, state-of-the-art water extraction equipment and technology to get the job done as quickly as possible. Standing water is removed from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting. Saturated rugs and carpets are taken up when hardwood floors are at risk…these are just a few examples of the many steps involved in drying out a structure and restoring its contents. With proper precautions (and a dose of good luck), you may never experience the trauma of a fire or dealing with its messy aftermath.
Why Hire a Professional for Fire Damage?
The flames are extinguished and the firefighters and emergency personnel have vacated the premises. After all the chaos and flaming battle, all seems settled now and safe once again. Conditions will not naturally return to normal, however. The smoke damage will linger until properly dispatched.
Fire leaves behind damages and reminders of its presence. The ash and smoke left behind can cause additional damage to the property if left untreated. Corrosion, etching and discoloration and odors are unwelcomed results of the treacherous fire and its remains. Such factors will impair the structure of the building, putting its inhabitants at risk.
SERVPRO of Southeast Portland has a vast array of products and highly skilled and trained fire damage technicians who can make it "Like it never even happened."
Why Professionals Should Clean Smoke Damage From A Fire
When the firefighters leave, it may seem like the danger has passed and the home is safe from further destruction, but without professionals to help clean the smoke damage, the building will never return to normal. While the principles behind fire restoration are fairly simple, it requires a lot of experience and manpower to perform adequately, and this means that it shouldn’t be attempted by a homeowner on his or her own.
While fire is always the immediate danger, once it is gone, what it leaves behind will continue to affect the house. Ash and smoke, if left unhindered, will cause extensive corrosion, etching and discoloration, not to mention lingering powerful odors. Professionals that clean fire and smoke damage can stop this before it becomes a major problem, assuming they are contacted soon enough. There are many companies out there that advertise their ability to restore areas affected by fire, but only those with proper training and certification should be considered. The Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) is the main oversight agency in this industry. The IICRC requires its registrants to take extensive coursework before earning their certification. This is a symbol of excellence, and those that uphold the standards that have been set can be contacted through the IICRC.
These professionals can clean smoke damage and restore items affected by a fire, but they must be brought to the site as soon as possible to halt the ongoing issues that ash residue can cause. The first thing that ash does to the home is discolor most surfaces. Anything that is made of plastic or was close to the fire will start discoloring within minutes, and within several hours, fiberglass and finishes on appliances will begin to yellow. Metals may also tarnish. After a few days pass, the ash will cause walls to discolor permanently, along with clothing and upholstery. Wood and vinyl will need to be refinished or replaced, and metal will start corroding.
If a professional isn’t hired to clean smoke and fire damage, the costs for restoration will skyrocket after a few weeks. Metals may need to be replaced, carpet will permanently discolor and glass may be severely etched, which will necessitate replacement. It will also become apparent that the odors caused by the disaster may still be present and intense enough to be distracting. Because ash is acidic, the longer it takes to hire experts, the more destruction it will cause.
The first thing a trained, certified, professional company will do when on site is to identify all affected materials and the source of any odors. The only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. Ash residue is easily disturbed and can spread through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration. The experts will identify what can and cannot be salvaged, and will remove any built-up ash residue that is coating surfaces. Over time, ash builds up in layers, and may eventually form into a lacquer-like consistency. Once this is done, the restorers will locate the source of the odor, and treat it with specialized detergents that are formulated for neutralizing this kind of odor. Once materials are treated, they may be sealed off to prevent any further odor from permeating the air in the future.
This entire process is very detailed, and hiring a professional that can be trusted to do the job right is imperative.
Fire Safety Tips... Two Minutes Might Be All You Have!
Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Learn what else to do to keep your loved ones safe!
Top Tips for Fire Safety
Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
Talk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
If a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
4 Steps to Take Immediately After a Home Fire
Call 9-1-1. Give first aid where needed; cool and cover burns to reduce the chance of further injury or infection.
- Let friends and family know you’re safe.
People and animals that are seriously injured or burned should be transported to professional medical or veterinary help immediately.
- Stay out of fire-damaged homes until local fire authorities say it is safe to re-enter.
Caring for Yourself & Loved Ones
- Pay attention to how you and your loved ones are experiencing and handling stress. Discard any food that has been exposed to heat, smoke or soot.
- Watch pets closely and keep them under your direct control.
- Help people who require additional assistance- infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency situation, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.
What To Do if a Fire Starts
If a Fire Starts:
- Know how to safely operate a fire extinguisher
- Remember to GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL 9-1-1 or your local emergency phone number.
- Yell "Fire!" several times and go outside right away. If you live in a building with elevators, use the stairs. Leave all your things where they are and save yourself.
- If closed doors or handles are warm or smoke blocks your primary escape route, use your second way out. Never open doors that are warm to the touch.
- If you must escape through smoke, get low and go under the smoke to your exit. Close doors behind you.
- If smoke, heat or flames block your exit routes, stay in the room with doors closed. Place a wet towel under the door and call the fire department or 9-1-1. Open a window and wave a brightly colored cloth or flashlight to signal for help.
- Once you are outside, go to your meeting place and then send one person to call the fire department. If you cannot get to your meeting place, follow your family emergency communication plan.
If your clothes catch on fire:
- Stop what you’re doing.
- Drop to the ground and cover your face if you can.
- Roll over and over or back and forth until the flames go out. Running will only make the fire burn faster.
Once the flames are out, cool the burned skin with water for three to five minutes. Call for medical attention.