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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Can smoke from a fire be dangerous?

6/9/2020 (Permalink)

A house fire being fought by firemen Where there's fire, there's smoke. Is there anything dangerous inside the smoke?

It’s a chilly evening, and you have a roaring fire going in the fireplace.  There is a little bit of smoke that doesn’t quite make it up the chimney.   The room smells pretty good.  Are there any dangerous chemicals or particulates inside the smoke?

Now, that roaring fireplace fire gets out of hand, and the room catches on fire.  There is a lot of smoke.  Are there any differences in the composition of the two smokes?

Both smoke and ash are the byproduct of materials that do not completely burn in a fire.  One reason the material does not burn completely is that the oxygen source may have been cut off; fires need oxygen to burn.  Another possible reason materials did not burn is that the fuel source may have been hindered (like firemen throwing water on a fire).

There are many items and chemicals in smoke.  Just a few of them are:

  • Carbon (from the physical burning of materials)
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Acidic Gases
  • Benzene
  • Stryrene
  • Ash
  • Water Vapors

All materials, whether natural or man-made, have some water content in them.  As the fire consumes that material, water vapor is released.  The chemicals that are also released in fires, attach themselves to the water vapors and are carried away with the wind currents.

Fighting a house fire should be left to the professionals, the firefighters.  You should exit a building that is burning as quickly and safely as possible.  But, sitting downwind of a fireplace or fire pit fire and breathing in the smoke, can also be dangerous.  This is true, especially if you have heart, lung, or breathing issues.  Wearing a dust mask, or even a surgical mask, will not offer much protection. 

If your home suffered some smoke damage, whether from a fireplace fire that got a bit out of hand, or a room or house fire, call the experts at fire cleanup, SERVPRO Bedford Park/Burbank.  We have the knowledge and protocols to save all items that can be restored, safely and quickly.

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