Author Topic: Recovering from a fire during FIRE  (Read 3059 times)

smoghat

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Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« on: September 22, 2019, 08:16:29 AM »
We had a fire the other day. My carpenter was staining the side of the house (why not me? Last time i did it, my shoulder was in pain for months... I have the money, I have other things to do, like landscaping). It was my birthday and it started off badly. Weíd had a steak dinner the night before and it set off the fire alarm in the kitchen-living area so I put it outside. Of course we forgot to bring it back in.

I had a dream about these 19th century era Polish-Lithuanian nobles (my momís ancestors, unlike my fatherís who were dirt poor... and he was the first member of the family to FIRE) getting ready for an outing in my living room (maybe a funeral). It was very bright and sunlight was pouring in through an area where a wall was. They were making noise. Our bedroom is next to the living room. I woke up and heard the real life sound of something, not too loud but still. Ok, time to strangle the cat since it was 1:36am, a time I remember well. No, it's not her. It turns out that there was a fire on the deck caused by a dropcloth left out after finishing staining for the day. The dropcloth had spontaneously combusted from the drying stain and the deck and a small section off the freshly stained exterior were up in flames. In fairness, to my carpenter, his mother died a week ago in his arms. Heís not 100% and my place is to understand that. The outer layer of tempered thermopane in the wood sliding door (which he and I had rebuilt meticulously last year) had blown up and was falling out slowly, hence the noise. Luckily, my wife grabbed the fire extinguisher, I filled some buckets with water, then went down a conveniently situated ladder to get a hose and we put it out without the fire department coming and doing even more damage. Only mistakeóand it's hard to fault myself for not thinking about this during a fire that could have burned down the house and was a few minutes from causing an insane amount of structural damageóis that I exited on the deck through the door next to the fire not through the one further away so now the house smells like smoke even after two days of airing out and filtering the air with a massive industrial hepa filter. It could have been much much worse.

This stain is exceptionally flammable. Weíve both worked with stains many times, but Cetol 1 is both effective and should have a big bold warning. Iíve had a rag smolder once when I left it in the summer heat on the driveway, but this went up like a rocket even though it was 50 degrees and nighttime out.

I donít want to call insurance and we have have been working on this to the point that no adjuster would come and deal with it. I save that for the big stuff. And since my carpenter and I are doing this and he doesnít have a license or insurance, theyíd just screw him and tell me to get lost.

What I could use from you all is any tips you might have for getting rid of the smell. We have been using fans to create positive pressure and an industrial HEPA filter but do you have other ideas? I have an ozone generator that I havenít turned on because I started reading about it and it scared me. We only have it for 5 more hours though, so if itís safe enough and actually useful (EPA says unsafe and not useful), let me know.

smoghat

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2019, 07:22:29 PM »
Nobody had any input so we ran the ozone generator for an hour. Slowly the smell is getting better, not sure it had anything to do with it.

MaybeBabyMustache

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2019, 08:12:55 PM »
No experience to share, but that sounds terrifying. So happy everyone is okay, and I'm very sorry to hear about the damage & odor. Hoping others have better advice.

justchristine

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2019, 04:55:47 AM »
Do you have any soot on the walls or furniture by the door?  Did the smoke get any deeper into the house? You may need to wipe down your walls and furniture if any of it got soot on it.  My parents had a basement fire earlier this summer and it was astonishing how sooty things were even after a cleaning company had 'cleaned'.  Things looked clean but if you wiped at them with a rag, they were still dirty.  Long story short,nthe first cleaners they hired just used water and some sort of soap to clean and everything was still dirty. Even after they were done cleaning the house still smelled.  The second cleaners used these chemical sponges that really got the soot off of stuff.  When they were done the smell was gone according to my mom.  Good luck.  Cleaning up after a fire is nasty business.

BTDretire

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2019, 09:51:23 AM »
No real experience, but when I was younger one of the neighbors put oil in a pan to heat for french fries. He forgot and the burning oil covered the ceiling with soot. I made one swipe in an attempt to clean it and decide it wasn't going to happen. They brought in a company to clean it, the only spot left was the swipe he had made in an attempt to clean it.

thesis

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2019, 08:26:25 AM »
First of all, sorry for your troubles, I'm glad the damage was minimized! But really, I'm fascinated about that dream. The wealthy preparing to mourn, light coming in through a hole in the wall (something a fire might create), even the contrast between your parents' upbringings and how your father was the first to FIRE, and how that commotion actually woke you up to the real issue at hand, a literal fire! It sounds like you received a warning right when you needed it :)

Dicey

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2019, 01:35:10 PM »
So was this a dream or did it really happen? I got confused by the part that goes like this...

I had a dream...

WSUCoug1994

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2019, 06:43:53 PM »
So we were lucky/unlucky in the world of fires (I am not FIRE'd).  The 2017 Tubbs Fire in Sonoma County started about a 1/4 mile from our house.  For some unknown reason we were one of the few houses that were spared in that fire even though the fire burned up to the foundation around our entire house and burned all of our property (trees, landscaping, well, spetic, etc).  I was able to get inside the house a few hours after the fire moved through our neighborhood and there was so much smoke in our house I couldn't see my hand in front of my face.  Needless to say we had to claim our insurance in order to get rid of the smell.  They hired a company that came in and wiped down every single surface in our home with a smoke neutralizer - I mean every surface - every wall, fixture, every inch of our house.  They also brought in these giant fans that basically circulated the air while they were working.
 Then they use something similar to a "bug bomb" that they put in each room and blasts the house with more smoke neutralizer to get into all of the cracks and crevices.  Then they took all of our "soft goods" blinds, towels, sheets, etc and had them dry cleaned and replaced all of our soft furniture include couches, chairs etc with any fabric including mattresses.  One of the harder projects was removing all of the insulation in the attic and the crawlspace under the house.  Seemed excessive but I wasn't paying for it.  When we moved back in 6 months later - there was a chemical kind of smell but that went away after a few weeks of running the furnace.  I was blown away that this worked - I mean we had so much dense smoke in our house and literally two inches of ash all over ever surface of the house.  Simply amazing.

I don't know if this is helpful or not but this is what the pros did to get us back in our house. 
« Last Edit: October 01, 2019, 06:45:46 PM by WSUCoug1994 »

smoghat

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2019, 06:53:04 AM »
Oh no! It actually happened. As you can imagine, I was a bit busy, so Iím only back now.

Itís a weird thing, those ancestors. Iím not convinced that they are on my side. The last time I was thinking a lot about them, Iíd found a family tree from the state archives and realized the rumors about nobility in the family were true. As I sat in a cafe in Vilnius, looking at it I got a phone call from my idiot building manager saying Iíd just been sued because of his laxness. It cost me $80,000. Itís a long story...

This is costing me $11,000 for new patio doors and new cedar decking. Why so expensive? Itís the way this house is built, and the intelligent thing is to replace them quickly rather than spend a month trying to rebuild the doors and letting the stress get in the way. We are going to have to replace part of the roof (not because itís damaged but because we have to do that in order to replace part of the wood ceiling that got charred) next year and my carpenter is giving me the entire roof for free, so the cost is basically a wash. 

I realize now that there is no magic trick since there is no magic trick. It helps to be FIREíd. My wife, carpenter, and I spent a *week* on this. We sanded off any burnt bits inside, spraying some parts with smell-trapping paint, even putting tape on some burnt areas that will be replaced. We washed the walls, we washed the ceilings, we washed everything. We took our contemporary oriental rug to the most reputable cleaner in town (nobody would tell me the price and it is 11 x 8 so I was afraid itíd be a fortune but it was $180... nice relief). We borrowed fans from the Unitarian congregation we belong to and replaced the air using positive pressure repeatedly.  We replaced the air filters in our AC unit. One of the patio sliders, which is made of mahogany (hence the cost)  and is somewhat burnt through still smells, but when you enter the house you wonít probably notice the smell anymore.  Since we usually have friends over for dinner, the smells of dinner will usually take over.

I could have used the week for other things and this was enormously disruptive. The first weekend I had to sit down, away from everybody, repeatedly. I was also working 18 hour days on this crap. But my blood pressure is still good, so no lasting toll on me. The house will be better for the money (the old sliders were hard to open and didnít really lock and the roof does have to go in the next few years).

Much Fishing to Do

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2019, 09:31:03 AM »
We washed the walls, we washed the ceilings, we washed everything.

Yep, an amazing pain in the ass but I learned (luckily for me just in a workshed fire) this is necessary whether you see any soot or not).  After that you have a chance.

smoghat

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2019, 06:25:32 AM »
We washed the walls, we washed the ceilings, we washed everything.

Yep, an amazing pain in the ass but I learned (luckily for me just in a workshed fire) this is necessary whether you see any soot or not).  After that you have a chance.

I forgot to say, we even washed the cat.

Sibley

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2019, 03:08:34 PM »
We washed the walls, we washed the ceilings, we washed everything.

Yep, an amazing pain in the ass but I learned (luckily for me just in a workshed fire) this is necessary whether you see any soot or not).  After that you have a chance.

I forgot to say, we even washed the cat.

Poor cat! Hope you apologized with treats.

smoghat

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Re: Recovering from a fire during FIRE
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2019, 04:45:03 AM »
Ha!