Wildfires are devastating homes all across California. Not just homes, but rental properties, businesses, and vehicles too.
Fire burning up everything in its path is an obvious cause for massive damages in California wildfires — but what about the smoke? As the saying goes, when there’s smoke there’s fire… but we don’t often think of smoke as a major cause of damages to personal property in California.
Billows upon billows of smoke can engulf entire communities and can pose health risks to humans, animals, and plants who are engulfed in it. But being surrounded in a cloud of smoke can also damage homes, businesses, rental properties and vehicles too.
Keep in mind, these wildfires are not often accidents. These devastating disasters are more often caused by negligent actions from power companies, lazy campers, and incompetent contractors. You can hold those responsible for your smoke damage liable for the damages caused to your personal property. The attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers can help guide you through how to collect damages on these types of claims.
Smoke Damages from California Wildfires
If the wildfire in your area has been contained enough to where your home, business, a rental property of vehicle has suffered a total loss from fire damage, there’s a strong possibility your personal property has suffered widespread smoke damage. Smoke can reach places that never saw a single flame form a California wildfire.
Smoke is a unique kind of gas — it doesn’t behave like steam or other kinds of gasses emitted from sources of heat. Smoke is made up from the following ingredients:
- Carbon Dioxide
- Carbon Monoxide
- Various Chemicals depending on what’s being burned
A raging fire can cause smoke to travel quicker than a regular gas and because it has ash combined with carbon monoxide — it sticks to whatever it comes into contact with. This makes smoke extensively tough to clean off and will often permanently damage whatever it’s come into extensive contact with.
Houses are perfect places for the smoke to do major damage too because of how most homes, rental properties, and businesses are laid out. Hallways and catwalks allow smoke to travel seamlessly through a home and air conditioning units help smoke spread even quicker. Especially in the case of smoke in a roaring California wildfire where the smoke is constantly being produced — billows upon billows of smoke can be funneled through a house through air conditioning vents and will damage a houses cosmetics, ventilation systems, and the insulation.
In order to properly assess smoke damage, you need to be able to document all the different places smoke can hide and penetrate in your home, rental property or business.
Temperature can play a big part in all the places smoke can travel and high. When temperatures get increasingly higher around California wildfires, the heat causes gas to rise. The hot smoke is pulled around by colder air in an air-conditioned house, naturally bringing smoke into the coldest parts of your house.
When a gas is hot, the molecules become more volatile — making them move faster and more unpredictable. This will cause smoke to move under furniture, into air ducts, and through insulation.
Don’t be alarmed if you find smoke damage in places you’d never expect following a California wildfire. Here are just a handful of places you should inspect if your house, business or rental property has suffered extensive smoke damage:
- Inside closets or drawers
- Hampers or storage bins
- Safes or file cabinets
- Window blinds and curtains
The chemistry behind smoke particles plays a big part of why smoke causes so much damage during California wildfires. Smoke particles are positively charged, which means they will naturally be naturally attracted to metal and synthetic material. This also makes carpets, rugs, and other cloth material especially vulnerable to suffering smoke damage.
As previously mentioned, air ducts are a perfect avenue for the smoke to travel through especially if the air conditioning is running cold.
Filing your smoke damage claim with your California insurance company
It’s good practice for your California homeowners policy to include some kind of smoke damage policy. Most policies will cover it, but issues can still arise when filing claims for smoke damage.
Smoke can cover your house, rental property, and business with large amounts of soot. When filing your claim, the most important thing is getting your insurance company to pay for any total losses for smoke damage and any cleaning/restoration costs that come with the fire.
Keep in mind a California Insurance company is going to be much more receptive to cleaning costs as opposed to total losses. The disputes will come when an insurance company will argue an item can be cleaned as opposed to being replaced, like a curtain for example.
A California insurance company will argue a curtain can be cleaned with one trip to the dry cleaner, but in reality, this curtain may be damaged beyond repair from overexposure to smoke. A California Attorney experienced in litigating fire and smoke damage can help you assess what needs to be replaced and what needs to be cleaned.
You’ll want to take the proper steps in mitigating these damages as soon as they happen. This means:
Turning off your central air and heating to prevent any trapped smoke from traveling anywhere else in the house.
Opening windows and running fans pointing towards those open windows to flush out any smoke that’s still in your house.
Go through and document everything in your house that’s been damaged by smoke. The more detailed the documentation, the better off your claim will be. Staying in contact with a California attorney experienced in litigating smoke and fire damages is going to be important to your claim holding up against your insurance company.
Hire a California fire damage attorney today
It’s not uncommon to see smoke damage roll up tens of thousands of dollars in total claims. Just because your house, rental property, car or business didn’t get burned doesn’t mean it didn’t get damaged from the surrounding smoke.
If your California insurance company won’t replace or clean your belongings, don’t leave it up to the adjusters to replace your items. The attorneys at The Sargent Firm Injury Lawyers are experienced in litigating fire damages and smoke damages all across California. They will help you too — your consultation is free and requires no obligation.
You pay no fees unless you win — call California fire damage attorney Ryan Sargent today!