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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

LNU Fire Cleaning Information

9/18/2020 (Permalink)

Picture shows smokey image of house and fence Thankfully this home was spared in the LNU fires, but will need significant cleaning of soot and ash. SERVPRO of Vacaville/Fairfield/Dixon can help.


Did you know that Smoke and Ash particulates can be harmful and can cause
significant health issues and damage your home or business?

SERVPRO of Vacaville/Fairfield/Dixon are your local experts and have cleaned hundreds of homes and businesses over the last several years due to Wildfire & Structure Fire Damage in Northern California.  We are here to help you through the LNU Lightning Complex Fire process.   Our technicians are trained and IICRC FIRE Certified.


  • Did you know every time you open your doors or windows, you are bringing air into your home that includes soot and ash particulates that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)?
  • Is there cause for concern or is a simple "sniff" test or wiping of a surface with a Chem-Sponge sufficient?
  • Why is it so common to hear customers complain of smelling smoke long after the restoration is completed?
  • What measures are being taken to protect homeowners, family, friends and workers from toxic particulate matter?

What is smoke?  As burning materials decompose, they release solid particles, gases, and aerosols that become suspended in the air.  Suspended particles, gases, and aerosols are smoke.  Gases are the invisible components of smoke.  Oxides of nitrogen are produced by burning organic compounds, and sulfur dioxide is produced by burning inorganic compounds.  Some of the gaseous by-products generated in a fire, such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, are extremely dangerous if people are exposed to the smoke while the fire is in progress. Smoke is the result of incomplete combustion which produces tiny particles of carbon in the air.  When deposited, these particulates are identified as soot.  Put simply, the particle size of smoke residue on a surface can present a respiratory hazard.  The particle size of soot is approximately 2.5 microns, a size that is associated with deep lung penetration.  Particles that are approximately 10 microns or larger get trapped in the upper respiratory tract.  In order to offer some perspective on the size of these particles, the dust you see flying in the light coming through a sun lit window is about 40 microns in size.  Airborne soot is too small to be seen with the naked eye and can easily be inhaled.  As a fire dies down, the smoke it has caused will disperse leaving behind a residue of quickly cooling particles which is generally referred to as soot.  Typically, soot is representative of what has burned, but may include byproducts that at first seem unrelated to the original material.  For example, Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) are potential byproducts.

  • People who have their properties damaged by fire and smoke will be exposed to toxic elements long after the repairs are completed if proper measures are not taken to remove toxic particulate matter and restore the indoor air quality.
  • Residual smoke, soot, chemicals, and microscopic particulates generated from structure fires are hazardous to human health and can cause severe health issues.
  • Toxic particulate matter can enter the body through the lungs or by contact with the skin.
  • Toxic particulates can adversely affect the health of everyone. Those at the greatest risk of injury are infants and children, the elderly, and those with weakened respiratory systems or cardiac ailments.
  • Toxic smoke particulate matter must be properly remediated prior to the return of occupants who may live or work in or around the affected areas.


In order to restore the indoor air quality after a structure fire or wildfire, the following steps should be taken to properly clean and restore the indoor air quality, primarily by removing the particulates rather than relying solely on treating, deodorizing, or masking them. Steps would include but are not limited to (barring your insurance companies approval): Having a preliminary air sample test performed to determine what types and concentrations of chemicals and particulates are present, setting up containments, wearing proper personal protective equipment, running negative air filtration with proper HEPA filters, HEPA vacuuming surfaces, deodorizing, and encapsulation of exposed surfaces, etc.  Once the cleaning process is completed, an independent environmental testing company should be hired to provide testing that includes, but is not limited to: 1) Surface dust wipe samples to test surfaces for combustion byproduct particulate matter including soot, char & ash. 2) Surface dust wipe samples to test for the presence of metals including lithium, chromium, lead, mercury, etc. 3) Air samples to test for Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and smoke particulate matter associated with burned materials, paints, glues, plastic, synthetic materials, etc. 4) Air clearance sampling to verify that the air has been properly cleaned of toxic soot, char and ash particulate matter.  An air clearance should be achieved prior to project completion and reentry of unprotected occupants.  Without these steps, occupants could be left exposed to unseen toxins, which could lead to adverse health conditions.

Here is a checklist of what you can be a part of your cleaning process:

  • Pressure washing the exterior of your home and property
  • Cleaning of your gutters
  • Removing and replacing of your insulation
  • Cleaning of your attic
  • A detailed wipe down of your home’s ceilings, walls and floors
  • Inspect and clean your duct work and HVAC system
  • Air filtration with proper HEPA filters
  • Cleaning of your belongings or contents
  • Cleaning of your textiles
  • Hydroxyl Generator or Ozone for deodorization

Our customers have asked if it is necessary to clean their home and/or business following a wild or structural fire?   The answer is yes to protect your property and belongings from the effects of soot.  The longer soot remains the faster it will yellow painted walls, stain upholstery, rust metals and corrode electronics. This process begins within weeks because soot is acidic. Your property is your investment, so make sure your cleaning includes exterior, interior and all your contents and textiles.  Your family, friends, employees, co-workers, and pets deserve to come back to a clean and safe environment.

We are here to help and make it “Like it never even happened.”

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