Free Emergency
Services Quote
(661) 396-7908

The Science of Fire Damage

After a fire, you will likely have several types of damage. The items damaged by the fire can exhibit ashing, charring, melting, or other distortion from the heat. Much of this material is likely not salvageable. The remainder may be lightly scorched, covered in soot, and have a strong odor of the fire. The biggest concern after a fire, is getting rid of the smoke smell and cleaning up the soot.

Behavior of Smoke

The complexity of property loss or destruction due to fire damage is due to the unique behavior of smoke. A trained fire damage professional should survey the loss site to determine the extent to which fire, smoke, heat, and moisture impacted building materials and contents. Smoke can penetrate within cavities of the structure, causing hidden damage and odor.

Smoke Facts

  • Hot smoke migrates to cooler areas and upper levels of a structure.
  • Smoke flows?around plumbing systems, using holes around pipes to go from floor to floor.
  • The type of smoke may greatly affect the fire damage restoration process.

Cleaning Up the Smell

There are three methods to removing the smell of smoke:

1) Thermal Deodorization: Thermal foggers rely on? a deodorizing chemical that is vaporized in the fogger then blown into the room permeating all the contents and structural elements. The vaporized chemical pairs with the odor molecules to absorb them and rid the premise of the smell. This process is quite effective when combined with necessary cleaning.

2) Ozone Treatment: This is used for more serious odors. This is the primary method for clothing, upholstered items, papers, books or any other porous material affected with an odor. Ozone is produced by a machine into an airtight chamber where all the items needing deodorization have been placed. The machine takes oxygen out of the air, charges it electrically and turns it into Ozone. Ozone is highly reactive and combines with the molecules to chemically alter their structure and rid property of odor.

3) Air Filterization Device (AFD): The machine relies on three filters to purify and deodorize the air removing 99.9% of the odor causing molecules. The first filter removes large particles up to 10 microns and larger. The second filter removes particles up to 1 micron and larger. The third (or HEPA) filter removes the smaller size fibers from the air.

After a fire, smoke damage is not the only concern. Soot damage can also occur and be difficult to remove.

Types of Soot:

  • ?Wet Smoke Residues: Result from smoldering fires with low heat. Residues are sticky, smeary and?with?pungent odors.? Smoke webs can be difficult to clean.
  • ?Dry Smoke Residues: Result from fast burning fires at high temperatures. Residues are often dry, powdery, small, non-smeary smoke particles.
  • ?Protein?Residues: Virtually invisible residues that discolor paints and varnishes. Extreme pungent odor.
  • ?Fuel Oil Soot: Furnace puff backs distribute?fuel oil soot.
  • ?Other Types of Residues: Tear gas, fingerprint powder, and fire extinguisher residues also need cleanup.

Cleaning Up the Soot

  • Prevent soot from spreading further. First, remove as much soot without using liquid. This requires using professional equipment.
  • Clean up walls and ceilings: requires use of? professional chemicals, sponges, etc.
  • Have a professional change filters in heating and air-conditioning systems.


As always, Alert Disaster Restoration is here for all your fire damage restoration needs. Call us at: 1 (877) 435-8117.