By Bryan Longoria
As the highly-publicized Two Bulls Fire showed last month, our Central Oregon fire season is off to an early start this year. While much of the public attention focuses on the active incident and the evacuations, many more residents are personally affected by the soot and ash damage. Many residents may notice some slight to moderate smoke damage and a lingering smoke smell in their residence and on their belongings.
While this damage may seem more cosmetic, soot and ash on clothing and floors creates a contaminated layer – exposing pets and children to health hazards, much like the effects of third-hand smoke.
ServiceMaster, a local disaster restoration company, has over 20 years of experience restoring fire-damaged homes and structures. They also have expertise in restoring water and smoke damaged furniture. They have some special tips for you and your family to consider when dealing with soot or ash in your home.
- Prevention is key: ensure that your doors and windows are closed and sealed to reduce further exposure or damage from soot and ash.
- Try to avoid touching soot or ash in your home, as the oil in your hands can permanently set stains in your upholstery, carpet, walls and woodwork.
- Blow off or brush vacuum loose soot particles from your upholstery, drapes and carpet.
- Wipe chrome and porcelain bath fixtures clean to prevent etching and staining.
- Do not eat any open foods that were directly exposed to smoke or ash.
Depending on how close your home was to the affected sites, most homes will experience very little smoke and ash exposure. Often, most residents will not need to contact their insurance and start a claim.
“Outdoor fires burn a lot of organic material, unlike house fires, which may contain plastic and metal” said Scott Maricle, owner of Service Master Disaster Recovery. “Typically, the ash and lingering smoke smells tend to dissipate a lot faster. Most of the time, most of the smokey smell will disappear within a few days, which is why we recommend letting your house air out – once the fire is extinguished.”
If you did experience enough damage to file a claim, you should wait to contact your insurance provider after the fire is fully contained and extinguished. The insurance agencies will likely ask you to wait until the fire is over so that your home isn’t further damaged after a claim is started.
“A lot of the exposure in Bend is very similar to the exposure of a camp fire” explained Scott Maricle. “A simple wash to fabrics and airing out your home should be enough to deodorize that fire smell.”
If you have any questions about ash or soot damage, or damage caused by fire retardants, don’t hesitate to call. at (541) 205-9354, or e-mail our experts. For more information and further reading about DIY soot damage removal, there is an excellent resource from the Los Angeles Health District.
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