You may be wondering is soot dangerous.

Cleaning up after a house fire, soot and smoke damage

fire damage, smoke damage, soot damage
Fire damage in room where fire started before cleanup begins

In early March we were called to clean up fire damage at a house fire in Thornton. Soot damage, smoke damage and smoke smell were pervasive throughout the house. Contents were damaged and contaminated and the structure itself needed a thorough assessment, damage remediation and some controlled and contained demolition.

The fire originated in a bedroom directly off the living room. The cause of the fire was a large candle left burning on a platform in the middle of the bed. The tenant, in a misguided attempt to warm the room, thought the candle left burning would add heat while he was out for the evening. This may seem obvious but candles left unattended can cause serious damage, be safe with candles. This candle safety blog post has some good tips.

Fire Damage, smoke and soot
Ceiling where fire started, extreme heat melted fan blades

Needless to say the tenant’s attempt to add heat to the room worked when the mattress caught fire. Mattresses burn really dirty, they generate massive amounts of residue, soot and smoke. This smoke can be very toxic and dangerous depending on the construction of the mattress. Mattresses are also one of the most common items to catch fire.

According to an article in Fire Chief magazine: In a recent five-year study, mattresses, with their concentrated materials and new chemistry, were reported as the first item ignited in over 10,000 residential fires accounting for over 371 deaths, 1,340 civilian injuries and over $400 million in direct property damage. For the complete article on mattress and mattress fires here is a link to the full article on Mattress fires.

New standards for mattress fire resistance are taking effect this year. NBC News did a report on the changes. This link to their report on Mattress Fire resistance.

Back to our story: The other tenants of the house discovered the smoke billowing from the bedroom, called the fire department and evacuated. The rapid response of the Fire Department saved the house and structure and restricted the worst of the fire damage to the bedroom where the fire originated. The damage was extensive in that room. The mattress and springs were a total loss as were much of the contents in that room. Drywall had been degraded beyond restoration the carpet and pad were saturated with soot and smoke residue necessitating removal. A closet and bath in that room were also severely damaged.

Smoke damage and soot damage, fire damage
Fire damage in the room where the fire started

The rest of the house structure was undamaged by the fire itself however, in any fire, the air currents generated by the heat and flames will push the smoke and soot into every crack and opening through out the house. A mattress fire is really dirty and generates a lot of smoke, soot and other residue. Smoke and soot damage was evident in every room, on all the furniture, drapes, cabinets, inside the piano and electronics. All the kitchen contents were contaminated, every plate, pan and utensil. Clothing, textiles and other personal contents were all contaminated by this blaze. The soot coated the walls, ceilings, light fixtures and the interior of every cabinet. In addition to the soot contamination the smell of fire, smoke and chemical residue permeated the house.

Cleanup of this magnitude requires a lot of specialists and a lot of coordination. We needed to arrange for electronics restoration, contents cleaning, piano restoration, structural cleaning, asbestos testing and some demolition where walls, ceilings and floors were damaged beyond salvage.  We also had to get the HVAC system and ductwork cleaned and complete odor elimination throughout the house. We had to coordinate all of these efforts with the insurance adjustors; one for the structure and one for the contents.

demolition compete, cleanup complete, fire damage restoration complete
Room where fire began is ready for rebuild

Within a week we had the contents sorted out. Some items were cleaned on site at the house others were sent to specialists for decontamination, cleaning and deodorization. All of the rooms that were not affected directly by the flames were cleaned of soot and smoke. We ran our Hydroxyl equipment constantly to eliminate the smoke odor from the fire throughout the rest of the house. The piano was removed, fully restored and returned to the home.

The room where the fire began had been tested for asbestos.  With that complete the walls, ceiling and floor coverings were all removed and disposed of. Reconstruction of that room can now begin.

PuroClean Disaster Response is ready and able to help with fire damage anywhere in our territory, from Boulder and Longmont to Brighton and Fort Lupton and from Arvada and Westminster to Loveland and Fort Collins. All of our Lead Technicians are fully trained and certified in fire damage restoration by the IICRC.

Fire damage, PuroClean Disaster Response
PuroClean Disaster Response is ready and qualified to help with fire damage, smoke, soot and odor

Fire damage restoration is a complicated and time consuming project but it is achievable and made easier with our training, knowledge, expertise and our expert partners.  Eliminating soot from walls, ceilings and contents is time consuming and difficult. Eliminating smoke smell is time consuming. This entire cleanup is possible as long as the contractor is qualified and knowledgeable about what needs to be done and how best to coordinate the work. If you are ever faced with fire damage, smoke or soot damage, call in qualified professionals. Professionals with IICRC certifications are trained and tested in the latest and most effective methods of cleaning up fire damage in the home.




Last edited on 10th of October 2023