Recent Fire Damage Posts

Getting Back Into Your House

2/3/2020 (Permalink)

oven fire house fire loss due to a stove

You had a fire, and now it's time to get your house back. Smoke and soot are more than a dirty little reminder of the disastrous fire that took its toll on your home; they can be very dangerous.  Leftover smoke and soot following a fire are more than just smelly and unsightly.  Exposure during fire restoration efforts can adversely affect your health.  Children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk when exposed to smoke and soot.  Its effects have been known since the 18th century, when the British Parliament passed the Chimney Sweepers Act in response to its association with cancer, the first ever occupational health legislation.

When combustion occurs during a fire, not all materials burn cleanly, resulting in smoke and soot.  These waste products - solids, liquids, and gases - may be composed of various chemicals which are harmful to your health. Today’s modern structures hold an array of chemicals not found in early homes, including plastics, foams, fabrics, carpets, wood products, synthetic fabrics, wool, and asbestos-containing materials, which could result in health hazards that make fire restoration a dangerous and difficult task.    

Exposure to smoke and soot during fire restoration may occur via the skin and eyes, inhalation, and ingestion.  Because airborne soot particulate is invisible, you may unknowingly be affected. Once soot enters your bloodstream, it can cause a wide array of serious health issues, including respiratory issues, shortness of breath, bronchitis, asthma, stroke, heart attack, cancer, and premature death. In infants, even short-term exposure to soot has been shown to have lifelong health consequences, permanently altering developing respiratory systems. Some of the contents that may be in a home or business are:

  • Mesothelioma (cancer) causing asbestos fibers from building materials used in the 1950s-1980s.
  • Carbon materials can produce carbon monoxide, hydrogen, ammonia, nitrogen oxides, and tar.
  • PVC may create hydrogen chloride, phosgene, dioxin, chloromethane, bromomethane, and halocarbons.
  • Sulfur can form hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and thiols that can cause residual smoke odor.
  • Partial oxidation of released hydrocarbons can yield formaldehyde, acrolein, furfural, ketones, alcohols, phenols, cresols, carboxylic acids, and more…
  • Even wood smoke released shares more than 100 chemicals also found in cigarette smoke. 

Unfortunately, safety risks from fire do not end once the flames are extinguished.  Fire damage can linger for years unless properly addressed.  Adequate safety equipment (respiratory, skin, and eye protection) are essential in reducing possible exposure to dangerous smoke and soot, and quite possibly water and mold related health issues resulting from firefighting efforts. Proper ventilation practices are also necessary to protect and restore indoor air quality following a fire, including HEPA filtration and adsorption (activated carbon) to preserve air quality. A bottle of degreaser and a dust mask are not enough! So where do you start?  SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt County can help!  The staff is highly trained, professional, knowledgeable, and have both the expertise and equipment needed for a safe and thorough fire restoration.

3 Steps To Take After A Fire

1/15/2020 (Permalink)

house fire working house fire

A fire in your Piatt/DeWitt County home can be devastating. There are people who can give you the assistance you need to rebuild your house if this happens. To expedite the fire restoration process, you will need to file a fire claim with your insurance company. Take these three steps right after the fire happens to make the process go more smoothly.

  1. Call Your Insurance Agent

The company that provides your fire insurance is the first call you should make after the flames have been put out. This starts the claims process. An adjuster comes to assess the damage and determine how much the insurance company will pay. The longer you wait to contact your insurance company, the higher the chance that your home will sustain damage that won't be covered.

  1. Vacate Your Property

You may be tempted to start cleaning up the moment you hang up from the call with your insurance agent. Fight this urge and leave damage mitigation to the professionals. Instead, take pictures of the damages so that you have an accurate record of them. You may also consider making a list of items that need to be replaced and the approximate replacement cost. This can help you when you are filing your claim, especially if the fire restoration cleanup starts before your adjuster arrives.

  1. Protect Your Home

It's likely that the fire that ravaged your home also left it vulnerable to the elements and unwanted guests. When fire remediation specialists arrive to start the smoke cleaning process, they will likely board up the parts of your home that normally would be closed to intruders, animals or bad weather. This can prevent further damage and save you the time and expense of extra repairs. Fire damage to your home can seem overwhelming. However, these are the few primary steps needed to start the fire restoration process.  SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt County is ready to work with your insurance agent to return your home to preloss condition.  Call or ask for SERVPRO at 217-935-2992, 24/7

Act Quickly

1/6/2020 (Permalink)

house fire SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt County act quick to all fire calls

Fires can be devastating when they occur.  It is crucial though when a fire strikes that you get the restoration process started immediately.  The longer that it is put off the harder and more repairs will be needed. This also means the price of repairs goes up as well.  SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt County specializes in fire damage and restoration.  Contacting us is the first step in getting the restoration underway. SERVPRO will try to save as much of your home and personal belongings that we can. Remember that safety comes first, so if there’s no way to safely gain access into your home, stay out until SERVPRO professionals arrive. On arrival we perform a thorough cleanup using our industrial-grade products and equipment, such as dry cleaning soot sponges to remove loose soot and specialized vacuum filters to clean carpet and upholstery.  Unfortunately fires happen, but when they do make sure you act quickly to get the damage cleaned up. SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt County takes fire damage and leaves it "Like it never even happened." Call SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt County for your fire restoration needs anytime at (217) 935-2992

Holiday Fire Safety

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

Christmas living room Christmas Living room

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater.

To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.)

To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas Trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. “They make turpentine out of pine trees,” notes Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the USFA. “A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.”

To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.

No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Olshanski says, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.

Decorative Lights

Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. “Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights,” explains Brian L. Vogt, director of education for holiday lighting firm Christmas Décor. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, Vogt says, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.

When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. And take lights down within 90 days, says John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety for Underwriters Laboratories.  “If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.”

Fireplaces

Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper.

When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal. 

Should you have a fire emergency, no matter how big or how small, we here at SERVPRO of Piatt/DeWitt are ready to help 24 hours a day! Call us today at  (217)935-2992..

Every Second Counts

6/17/2019 (Permalink)

In a fire, seconds count. Seconds can mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.

This reinforces why everyone needs to have an escape plan. Here are some key messages to employ:

  • Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

via http://www.nfpa.org/

Have you contacted your local fire department? See how you can get involved with them and your community to prevent house fires. Sometimes they will have events or give out smoke detectors for your home. Don't think this could never happen to you because it easily could. We don't have control over everything in our homes! Be safe and have a plan! 

Reach out to us at (217)935-2992.[JB]

Residential Lightning Damage Happens More than You Think

6/7/2019 (Permalink)

Strikes happen an average of twice a year!

Here at SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties, we can help you with fire damages caused by lightning strikes. When the lightning hits a residence, it travels through the electrical lines to one of the home’s electrical boxes, which can catch fire. These fires can leave severe damage, including smoke damage to your home. SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties mitigation team has the ability to do a chem-sponge technique that is used to clean soot off of the walls. In doing this, SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties can ensure that no fire damage or smoke damage goes untreated. If needed, affected walls in all damaged rooms can be painted after the cleanup is completed and drywall replaced where necessary. Our professional in-house crew use a white-glove treatment on your residence and can complete the entire project quickly; from the first contact to completion. Here at SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties, we are proud to serve the residents of Piatt/Dewitt Counties, especially when the worst happens. Why chose SERVPRO? Because in the event of fire or water damage, large or small, we’re here to help. Call us in Piatt/Dewitt Counties at (217)935-2992.  [JB]

3 Fire Hazards to Avoid This Spring

4/16/2019 (Permalink)

Spring time is such a fun, beautiful time of year. Stay safe out there!

The weather is warmer, the trees are blooming, and my allergies are killing me. Spring has officially sprung! That being said, there are still a wide variety of fire hazards that you should watch out for, even during the warm months.

1.Grills: Whether you’re cooking burgers for the family event or grilling up kabobs for dinner, you will inherently deal with a fire. Most are gas grills, which presents an even greater risk. In fact, the NFPA (https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Data-research-and-tools/US-Fire-Problem/Home-Grill-Fires) reports that an average of 9,600 home fires is caused by grilling each year. Here are some fire safety tips for the grill:

  • Always check for any potential fire hazards before firing up the grill.
  • If the grill does not light the first time, let the gas dissipate for at least 5 minutes before attempting to light the grill again.
  • Be sure the grill is clean before using to get rid of oil and gas residue.
  • Make sure the grill is set up in an open, outdoor area and keep it a good distance from the house and railings.
  1. Dryers: This is a fire hazard year round. In fact, the leading cause of clothes-dryer related fires is a failure to keep the lint baskets clean. Lint is combustible. Lint causes fires. It takes seconds to clean out the lint basket, so just make a habit of it when you get your clothes out of the dryer. If you have space for a clothesline in the spring and summer months - use it! There’s nothing better than fresh, air dried clothes. The NFPA also recommends cleaning out the vent pipe at least once a year so lint or other flammable particles do not get stuck in the vent pipe. 
  2. Outdoor Fire Pits and Bonfires: The necessary safety precautions for an outdoor fire pit are pretty obvious, but keep these in mind when you’re having a party on a cool spring night.
  • Always have an adult present around a fire. Never leave children unattended! 
  • Always have a bucket of water or a water hose available nearby if things get out of hand. 
  • Build the fire away from homes, porches, low-hanging trees, or any other fire hazards. 
  • Monitor the number of leaves, pine needles, paper, and other contents are fed into the fire since these items catch fire quickly and result in high flames and floating embers. 
  • Always put the fire out completely before leaving the fire unattended. Don't expect it to die down on its own!

We are always Here to Help when you need us. Call us at SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties any time at (217)935-2992.  Happy Spring!

Who Can You Trust to Restore Your Business After Fire Damage? SERVPRO Of Course!

3/5/2019 (Permalink)

No matter how severe the damage is, our team will restore your business.

Assistance Helps Speed Up Recovery after Commercial Fire Damage in Piatt and Dewitt Counties

Fires in commercial establishments can be very devastating. Apart from the loss they cause by damaging the structure and contents, they also lead to business closure, which translates to lost revenue. The longer it takes to resume normal operations, the higher the cost of lost opportunities. In the worst cases, the business might even lose customers. We offer restoration services that help commercial establishments recover faster after fire incidents. FSRT certification means our customers benefit from a combination of top-notch equipment and advanced skill sets throughout the restoration process. 

The steps are taken immediately restoration starts can quicken, or hamper the speed of recovery after commercial fire damage in Piatt and Dewitt Counties. Our SERVPRO technicians rely on their IICRC training to do a thorough evaluation before starting the restoration process. Such evaluation helps us establish the primary form of damage. Depending on the materials and items present in the affected area, it could be a case of predominant flame or smoke damage. If it is a case of smoke damage, we need to establish whether wet or dry smoke is the most prevalent. Having such information helps determine the level of agitation, chemical action and dwell time needed for effective cleaning. 

Commercial spaces can present unique size challenges. In a space like a warehouse, the sheer size of the walls, ceilings and other areas that require cleaning can prolong the restoration. In a hotel or office space, the challenge could be large surfaces such as glass windows that require special care to avoid problems like streaking. Our SERVPRO crews use special equipment such as mobile scissor lifts, spotting pad holders and extensions poles when cleaning up vast surfaces saving time. 

Our SERVPRO team considers the entire restoration process to determine how much effort to put into each phase, which also helps save time. For instance, if restoration involves repainting the affected surfaces, we clean to remove debris and neutralize the acids in smoke residue then restore the visual appeal though painting.

Restoring your fire-damaged premises should not take too long. Call SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties to assist. You can reach us at (217) 935-2992 any time.

Why Hiring a Professional Restoration Company to Clean Up After Your Home Experiences a Fire Is the Best Choice

2/18/2019 (Permalink)

Fire damage in Piatt/Dewitt Counties does not have to be a headache.

The principle of cleaning after fire damage in Piatt/Dewitt Counties

Surviving the aftermath of the fire damage can be quite a relief. However, the replacement and repairs can be very detrimental. Luckily, there are some insurance companies out there who would help with the costs. However, dealing with the aftermath does require some skills and expertise. The cleaning process isn’t an easy task. Keep in mind that it requires extensive inspection, identifying types of residues and services, removing the residues and disposal. All this should be taken care of by a fire restoration specialist. After all, doing this on your own can be very dangerous, exhausting, time-consuming, and expensive.

Fire damage in Piatt/Dewitt Counties does not have to be a headache. The situation is mainly because the SERVPRO tech can take care of everything. They can start by inspecting that areas near the source of the fire and see how far the damage has moved through various structures. There are different types of smoke residues, and the SERVPRO specialist can select a cleaning method that can effectively remove these residues. Another thing to note is that the type of surface that has undergone the fire damage may require specialized cleaning method and products that are sale to use on the surface. The fire restoration experts may have to be cautious to preserve the materials or surface during the cleaning process.

Since smoke residues can bind to the surface that they come in contact with, the fire experts can use a dry and wet screening process to release the particles away from the affected surface. The restorer can adequately get rid of the debris and cleaning waste. Once everything is completed, the technicians can walk you through your how to make sure that you are satisfied with the results.

If you are interested in getting a specialist to clean and restore you home after fire damage, then give SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties a call at (217)935-2992 and we can promptly send our experts to your home. (LB)

How to Efficiently Extinguish a Grease Fire

1/30/2019 (Permalink)

If you are unsure if you can safely extinguish any fire, Call 911.

A grease fire can erupt suddenly and spread quickly. To help minimize damage, it’s important to quickly extinguish any kitchen blaze. However, certain actions may be highly ineffective and can jeopardize your safety. For this reason, it’s crucial to understand the appropriate techniques to smolder a grease-fueled inferno.

What Not To Do

There are several procedures that every homeowner in Piatt/Dewitt counties should avoid doing in the event of a kitchen fire involving grease:

  • Fanning the flames with a dishcloth
  • Pouring water over the inferno
  • Transporting the burning pot outside

Each of these measures is counterproductive and may cause flames to spread

Smolder the Flames

Once the stove is off, you should cover the flaming pot with a metal lid or baking sheet. Avoid using glass or ceramic items because the intense heat may cause these materials to shatter.

As an alternative, you can also douse flames with baking soda. However, this technique is only effective against small fires and should not be attempted on larger infernos.

Utilize on Appropriate Fire Extinguisher

If the blaze is no longer contained inside the pot, use a Class B, K or multipurpose fire extinguisher to smolder the flames. Because it contains pressurized water, a Class A extinguisher is not suitable for use on flammable liquids. For safety reason, you should check the label before engaging any extinguisher to verify the type of fire it’s designed to battle.

Call 911

Attempting to battle a large inferno can be extremely dangerous. If flames spread, evacuate the premises and call 911 for assistance.

Be prepared

To quickly extinguish a grease fire, it’s imperative that you remain alert. Keeping a metal lid and fire extinguisher accessible while cooking can help you respond quickly, reducing the risk of a damaging blaze requiring a tedious fire cleanup.

Call SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt Counties for any fire damage emergency needs. Reach us 24/7 at (217) 935-2992.

Emergency Tips: Fire/Smoke Damage Do's and Don'ts

1/17/2019 (Permalink)

Do

  1. Limit movement in the home to prevent soot particles from being embedded into upholstery and carpet. 
  2. Keep hands clean; Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls, and woodwork.
  3. Place dry, colorfast towels or old linens on rugs, upholstery and carpet traffic areas.
  4. If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help.
  5. Wipe soot from chrome on kitchen and bathroom faucets, trim, and appliances, and then protect these surfaces with a light coating of lubricant. 
  6. If heat is off during winter, pour RV antifreeze in sinks, toilet bowls, holding tanks and tubs to avoid freezing pipes and fixtures.
  7. Wash both sides of leaves on house plants.
  8. Change HVAC filter, but leave system off until a trained professional can check the system.

Don't

  1. Attempt to wash any walls to painted surfaces without first contacting your SERVPRO Franchise Professional.
  2. Attempt to shampoo carpet or upholstered furniture without first consulting your SERVPRO Franchise Professional.
  3. Attempt to clean any electrical appliances (TV sets, radios,etc.) that may have been close to fire, heat, or water without first consulting an authorized repair service. 
  4. Consume any food or beverages that may have been stored close to fire, heat, or water (may be contaminated)
  5. Turn on ceiling fixtures of ceiling is wet. Wiring may be wet or damaged and cause electrical shock, and air movement may create secondary damage. 
  6. Send garments to dry cleaner. Improper cleaning may set in smoke odor. 

Call SERVPRO of Piatt/Dewitt today with any of your Fire and Water damage needs at (217) 935-2992.

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

12/1/2018 (Permalink)

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater.

To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.)

To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas Trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. “They make turpentine out of pine trees,” notes Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the USFA. “A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.”


To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.

No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Olshanski says, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.

Decorative Lights

Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. “Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights,” explains Brian L. Vogt, director of education for holiday lighting firm Christmas Décor. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, Vogt says, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.

When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. And take lights down within 90 days, says John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety for Underwriters Laboratories.  “If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.”

Fireplaces

Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper.

When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal. 

Should you have a fire emergency, no matter how big or how small, we here at SERVPRO are ready to help 24 hours a day! Call us today at  (217)935-2992.