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As soon as possible after a fire, be sure to secure the premises and establish that there is no more danger of further damage from the fire. If you can, do an inspection of your property to determine how much damage has been done by a fire and how much from smoke. Smoke does not cause structural damage but can leave deposits on walls, ceilings and floors, and make salvage of furnishings and other personal belongings difficult. Smoke can also cause respiratory problems, and you should strongly consider making arrangements to stay elsewhere until your home has been deemed safe for reentry.
The decision whether or not to remain in your home after fire damage should be based on a number of factors:
Is there structural damage?
If the structure is seriously damaged by a fire - or partially destroyed - you will need to decide whether or not the building can be saved. The greater the degree of structural damage, the more costly it will be to repair.
If the fire was contained to a single room, structural damage will probably be minimal. However, if the home sustained heavy smoke damage along with some heat and charring of wood frame members, you may want to have an engineer or architect evaluate structural integrity before making any decisions.
Is There Water Damage?
Now is also the time for water damage assessments caused by your efforts to save the building from burning down. Water damage may occur as a result of firefighting efforts or even if water is simply poured on a fire. The more water that was needed to put out the fire, the greater chance there is for water damage because it takes time and effort to remove excess water where it does not belong—on floors, in walls and on the roof. You may even have to replace electrical outlets, switches and light fixtures if they were submerged during firefighting efforts.
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