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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Wildfire Damage in the Texas Panhandle Fires

4/9/2024 (Permalink)

Fire-damaged window with black soot surrounding it. SERVPRO's fire damage restoration technicians are ready to help today.

Fire damage can be catastrophic for homes and businesses. In February 2024, the Smokehouse Creek Fire became the largest wildfire in Texas history, burning over one million acres. Within days of the outbreak, SERVPRO of Amarillo was already working on restoring smoke-damaged homes.

Wildfire Smoke and Soot Damage

The wildfires severely impacted many homes, resulting in extensive structural damage. Most of these homes required complete demolition down to the foundation. However, many other homes could be saved using fire damage restoration techniques. These homes had wildfire smoke damage infiltration, which causes soot damage restoration to be a critical aspect of fire damage cleanup. Professional personal protective equipment (PPE) is required to keep the restorer safe during the cleanup process due to the soot's small particle size.

Professional PPE is necessary because soot is made up of minuscule carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons and fossil fuels like charred wood, oil, coal, and other materials. Soot contains acids derived from chemicals, metals, soils, and dust, and it can easily penetrate porous materials such as carpet, drywall, and upholstery. If left untreated for too long, soot residue may permanently affect a property's appearance and trap lingering odors and irritants.

During the cleanup phase of the Smokehouse Creek Fire, SERVPRO of Amarillo has noticed wildfire smoke and soot infiltration and build-up in the following places:

- Air Vents: Even with heavy filters installed, smoke was most likely brought into the home through the air vents if the air conditioner was on during the wildfire.

- Window and Door Gaps: Many windows have small, almost imperceptible air gaps around their caulking. When gaps exist, smoke was able to find its way inside the property from the window and door gaps.

- Exterior Walls and Outdoor Spaces: Due to the strong winds that carried the wildfire, we have seen smoke and soot particles clinging to exterior walls.

Smoke and soot that infiltrated homes have caused fine particles to land on every surface of the home, necessitating a ceiling-to-floor soot damage cleaning.

Fire Damaged Personal Belongings

Many customers had fire-damaged personal belongings in addition to structural damage. The same soot particles that infiltrated the homes likely affected their belongings. Content restoration services are needed to properly clean those items so they can be safely handled again.

Content restoration can happen in one of two ways:

- On-Site Content Restoration: If the property is structurally safe and has running electricity and water, it's possible to clean the homeowner's contents on-site. Every item is inspected, inventoried, and cleaned before being put back in its place. Structural cleanup happens either in tandem with content restoration or before it to ensure that contents are only returned to clean surfaces.

- Off-Site Content Restoration: When a property is not structurally sound, or the structural fire damage restoration is extensive, contents may need to be cleaned off-site. This process involves inventorying the property's contents, packing, and transporting them to a safe location. SERVPRO of Amarillo has a fire damage cleaning location near downtown Amarillo.

Textile Restoration and Sanitization

Specialized textile restoration is needed for affected textiles, such as clothing, linens, and stuffed animals. Due to the small size of soot particles, they can easily get embedded into a fabric's weave, which home and commercial washing machines cannot successfully remove. Regular washing machines use mechanical pressure to clean textiles, which may embed the soot particles further into the fabric. To remove over 99% of particles, SERVPRO of Amarillo is certified to use a hydraulic washing machine that produces enough pressure to push detergent and disinfectant-laden water completely through a textile's fabrics.

Contents are returned once the property is clean and safe to inhabit again.

What is SERVPRO of Amarillo Doing to Clean Wildfire Damage?

No matter how tight a property's envelope is, the wind that powered the Smokehouse Creek Fire caused significant smoke and soot to enter homes that were directly in the wind's path.

The following services are commonly needed to clean up after the Texas Panhandle Fires:

- Structural Fire Damage Cleaning, which includes floor-to-ceiling HEPA vacuuming and washing
- Air Scrubbing (HEPA)
- Air Duct and HVAC Cleaning
- Exterior Cleaning
- Carpet Cleaning
- Deodorization
- Content Cleaning
- Textile Sanitization
- Content Inventorying
- Pack-Out/Pack-Back
- Storage

SERVPRO of Amarillo Travels

The SERVPRO team services any customer in need, regardless of their location. Our daily service area includes everywhere in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. We also travel nationally.

Call SERVPRO for Wildfire Damage Restoration

SERVPRO will restore your home or business to its pre-damage condition. Our comprehensive services cover everything from fire damage cleaning to reconstruction.

Call us today at 806-331-4555. We're Here to Help.

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