Recent Fire Damage Posts

Fire Restoration 101: Methods of Content Cleaning

7/17/2020 (Permalink)

porcelain statue damaged by soot before and after ultrasonic cleaning SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield uses Ultrasonic technology to restore delicate items such as this porcelain figurine from damage caused by soot.

When a home or business sustains damage from a fire, much of its contents can often be saved and restored.  The experienced professionals at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield are trained in multiple methods and technologies which can be used to restore your belongings. The following are specific systems and methods available at our facility. 


Ultrasonic technology uses a spectrum of sound frequencies, water, and cleaning solutions to remove debris and soot from non-porous items.  These frequencies range from 20,000-100,000 cycles per second, with various frequencies performing separate applications.  Lower frequencies can be used on sturdier items with heavy soil, and higher frequencies are safer for more delicate items.


The Esporta Wash System uses hydraulic action to force organic and inorganic contaminants out of items to be cleaned.  Commonly, these items are clothing, linens, and shoes.  The force applied is comparable to the force of waves crashing against a beach.  Esporta restores 90% of soft contents  damaged by odor, soot, grime, mold, and mildew to food-grade clean using sustainable, phosphate-free detergents.  


Ozone generation is a process that removes smoke odor molecules by releasing additional oxygen into the air.  While ozone is often used in open air to deodorize a home, there are some safety concerns.  Ozone is most effective when utilized in a controlled environment such as an ozone chamber.  Contents and furniture that cannot fit into either the Ultrasonic system or Esporta are first cleaned by hand and then often placed into an ozone chamber to remove any lingering odors of smoke by eliminating the microorganisms that cause them.  Our dedicated ozone chamber is utilized for items with stubborn embedded odors that would otherwise be impossible to remove.  

SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield is an industry leader in fire restoration.  We have the technology needed to restore your home and belongings to their original state, reducing the amount of personal or sentimental items that would otherwise be unsalvageable.  We are here to help and here to answer your questions 24/7/365.  Give us a call at 847-432-1222.

Fire Restoration 101: Methods of Structure Cleaning

6/23/2020 (Permalink)

kitchen fire with soot Using professional methods and technologies to remove soot residue after a fire is essential to ensure that all odor is removed before repairs begin.

In a study of 2018 fire activity published by the National Fire Protection Association, it is estimated that property owners experienced over $11 billion in fire losses across nearly half a million structures.  All of these events are unique in circumstance and severity.  Before a structure cleaning can begin, it is important to understand the cause and type of the fire as well as the materials affected.   The professionals at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield are experienced in these scenarios and have the training necessary to restore your property fully to its pre-fire condition.

Here are some types of fires and subsequent methods of cleaning:

High Oxygen

High oxygen fires create a dry soot residue, so they are cleaned by first using a dry chemical sponge method.  Introducing moisture to a dry soot environment can further lodge the soot into building materials, so removing as much soot as possible before wet cleaning with a low-alkaline detergent and rinsing is crucial.

Low Oxygen

Due to the wet soot this type of fire causes, it must be cleaned with a wet method.  We use a high-alkaline detergent to wash walls and structural components. 


Often the most difficult fire to clean, kitchen fires present a soot residue that is often harder to detect.  Cabinets, drawers, appliances, etc must often be removed for full access to all residue so that it may be properly removed to eliminate lingering odors.

Remember that SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield is available 24/7/365 to restore your home or business after damage from fire.  Our professionals are highly trained and experienced in this type of cleaning, and will work hard to take the worry out of your restoration process.  Call us today at 847-432-1222.

Fire Restoration 101: Structure Cleaning

6/11/2020 (Permalink)

structure cleaning after residential fire SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield is here to help with any fire, soot, or smoke damage that may occur in your home or business.

Navigating the destruction of a fire in your home or business can be stressful, but SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield is IICRC certified, experienced, and ready to bring your property back to its preloss condition.  Fires, large or small, can cause a great deal of smoke and odor damage. The heat generated by a fire and air currents can carry soot, smoke and odor throughout your entire property.

Before reconstruction can begin, structural cleaning is necessary so new materials will not be contaminated from previous damage. Utilizing the most up to date equipment, products and technology, SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield thoroughly cleans damaged areas of your structure.

Our process will ensure that odor causing materials and potentially hazardous conditions are removed and treated before reconstruction takes place.

We focus on removing smoke residues from the building’s structural components and neutralizing odors given off by the residues. Following basic principles of cleaning allows us to accomplish this task:

  • Locate the smoke residues by carefully inspecting the affected area
  • Identify the type of residues
  • Capture and remove residues

When fire damage takes control of your life, we help you take it back. SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield is ready and waiting for your call 24/7/365. Contact us for more information at 847-432-1222.

Fire Restoration 101: Levels of Damage

4/30/2020 (Permalink)

house on fire SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield is here to help answer your questions and restore your home to its preloss condition.

Levels of Fire Damage

Not all fires end with the same amount or level of damage. Fire damage is categorized into three different levels: minor, moderate, and major.  The trained professionals at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield will assess your damage and provide a plan of action to restore each unique fire loss.

Minor Fire Damage

  • Smoke residue is light and contained to certain rooms or areas. 
  • Restoration may involve dry cleaning and/or wet cleaning of ceilings, walls, floors and contents. 
  • Areas may need to be repainted, and minimal items may need to be replaced. 

Moderate Fire Damage

  • Smoke residue is moderate, and more materials require wet cleaning. 
  • Multiple areas require repainting, and the number of items requiring replacement multiplies.
  • Floors may require refinishing. 
  • Heat damage requires more materials to be replaced. 
  • Smoke orders are noticeable and the structure may require additional deodorization.  

Major Fire Damage

  • Smoke residue is present through a large portion of the structure.  
  • Smoke odor is much stronger, even overwhelming. 
  • Heat damage is severe.
  • Structural framing and finishes may be charred, requiring structural repairs. 
  • Emergency services are needed.  These include boarding up, establishing a source of electricity, winterizing the building in cold weather, and removing smoke-filled and charred debris.
  • Restoration will require extensive cleaning of the structure.
  • Contents that are salvageable will be moved off-site for cleaning.  
  • Multiple methods of deodorization are needed to remove smoke odors.

A fire of any size is one of the most devastating events a home or business owner can encounter. Each smoke and fire damage situation is different, and each requires a unique solution.  SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield has the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore fire and smoke damage.  It is our number one priority to treat your family with respect and your property with care.  Call us today at 847-432-1222 for a no cost assessment.

Fire Restoration 101: Types of Soot

2/25/2020 (Permalink)

black soot webs appear similar to spider webs spread across the ceiling of a home Soot webs caused by wet soot formed during a house fire.

There are two different types of soot: wet and dry. Before restoration begins, SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield will test the soot to determine which type of damage occurred. The cleaning procedure we use will then be based on the information identified during pretesting.

Wet Soot - Plastic and Rubber

  • Low Heat,
    smoldering, pungent odor, sticky, smeary. Creates smoke webs that are more difficult to clean.
  • Example: plastics, synthetics, household fires

Dry Soot - Paper and Wood

  • Fast burning, high temperatures, heat rises therefore smoke rises.
  • Example: organic materials, wildfires

Protein Soot - Food products

  • Virtually invisible, discolors paints and varnishes, extreme pungent odor. 
  • Example: grease or food, kitchen fires

A fire is one of the most devastating events a home or business owner can encounter. Each smoke and fire damage situation is different, and each requires a unique solution for the specific situation.  SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield has the equipment, expertise, and experience to restore fire and smoke damage. It is our number one priority to treat your family with respect and your property with care.

Call SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield today at 847-432-1222 for a free inspection to assess your unique situation.

Deerfield Fire Restoration 101: Pretesting

2/19/2020 (Permalink)

After a fire why is pretesting so important?

At SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield, fire damage professionals use pretesting to determine the scope of the loss, type of fire loss, and the method of cleaning for areas that have been affected. This process also helps determine what items are restorable or repairable vs. those items that will need to be replaced. 

Factors determined by pretesting:

  • Cleaning Method
  • Condition of Surface
  • Level of Soil
  • Type of Soil
  • Pre-Existing Conditions

Pretesting helps to ensure our customers are back into their home as soon as possible, within a realistically accurate time estimate. For help 24/7/365, call on the professionals at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield today at 847-432-1222.  We are here to help.

Fire Restoration 101: Safety First

1/27/2020 (Permalink)

kitchen area after a fire heavy soot House fires have many sources. This one was caused in a kitchen by a dishwasher malfunction.

After your fire has been put out you may be left with the question, “What should I do next?”  SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield can help. We will walk you through your next steps. Safety is our number one concern until help arrives, so here are some basic do’s and don'ts:


  • Limit the movement of damaged areas
  • Keep hands clean. Soot on hands can further soil upholstery, walls and woodwork
  • If electricity is off, empty freezer and refrigerator completely and prop doors open to help prevent odor.


  • Do Not touch contaminated surfaces
  • Do Not attempt to clean walls, carpet, contents,or other contaminated surfaces
  • Do Not use food, cosmetics or medications exposed to soot.
  • Do Not send clothing to ordinary cleaner; improper cleaning may set odors

No one wants to experience a fire in their home or business.  If you experience this and need help, please give us a call at 847-432-1222.  SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield has the expertise and experience to assist you in the cleanup and restoration of your property.  We are here to help!

Fire Pit Safety

7/18/2019 (Permalink)

Enjoy your firepit more after following these tips.

Relaxing around a fire pit is one of the best ways to spend a summer night. They are a perfect addition to your outdoor space, but they key to having fun is staying safe. Outdoor fire pit injuries have tripled in the last few years. 

Here are eight easy safety guidelines to follow to ensure you have fun without worry:

1. Choose the right location.

The first step to fire pit safety? Finding a level surface in an open area. Your fire pit should be at least 10 feet from your home, your neighbor’s yard and any plants. Overhanging branches, wooden decks, or fences are a big no-no. That means fire pits should never be beneath canopies, below covered patios or under trees.

2. Pick your fuel.

If you’re going for a nostalgic fire pit, a wood-burning pit is the way to go — enjoy the kindling and the crackling. Want fire on demand? Gas or propane pits offer a quick-lighting option. And, now, many store-bought fire pits allow you to switch between wood and gas.

3. Use the right wood.

Make sure to use seasoned hard woods. Construction materials like plywood can release toxic fumes, white soft woods can spark and pop excessively. Only use wood that’s short enough to fit entirely in your pit, so it doesn’t stick out.

4. Don’t use fuel accelerates.

Like with fireplaces, using fuel accelerates like lighter fluid is extremely unsafe. Not only can they release toxic fumes, but they can start an explosion or cause your fire to grow too quickly.

5. Buy and use a screen.

Fire pit screens are one of the best way to keep your fire in the pit. You’ll protect your guests from errant embers and sparks that could ignite dry material like clothing. Choose a screen of heat-resistant metal like cast iron or steel.

6. Always check the weather report and burn status.

Windy days are dangerous for fires, as it can unexpectedly spread. Before heading out to the fire pit, check with your county’s air quality department. When pollution levels are high, this government body may issue “no burn” restrictions to limit particulate matter and carbon dioxide levels.

7. Be smart around fire.

You wouldn’t leave your children around an unattended pool, right? Always have an adult present when the fire is burning. Don’t wear flowy clothing that could flutter into the flame. Don’t drink excessively when burning a fire. And never leave a fire pit burning overnight.

8. Alert your insurance agent.

You may need to disclose your fire pit for your homeowners insurance policy. Reach out to your Farm Bureau agent to make sure your yard and home are properly protected.

Types of Fire Extinguishers

6/24/2019 (Permalink)

Having access to a fire extinguisher in your  home at all times is important to home safety but do you know what type of extinguisher to have ? Did you know that there are different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires? Fire extinguishers are sorted into  different categories based on the types of fire they are used on there is Class A,B, C and K fires and the fire extinguishers are labeled according to the type of fire the extinguish. Here are the types of extinguishers and the types of fires they extinguish:

Class A extinguishers are water extinguishers and are used on ordinary combustibles such as:

  • Paper
  • Cloth
  • Wood
  • Rubber
  • And many plastics

*** Never use water extinguishers to extinguish flammable liquid fires.

*** Never use water extinguishers to extinguish an electrical fire.

Class extinguishers are CO2 Extinguishers and are used on flammable liquids such as:

  • Fires in oils
  • Gasoline
  • Some paints
  • Lacquer
  • Grease
  • Solvents
  • And other flammable liquids

*** Never use CO2 extinguishers in a confined space, it can create a breathing hazard if proper respiratory equipment is not being used.

Class extinguishers are a Dry Chemical Extinguisher and are used on electrical equipment such as:

  • Fires in wiring
  • Fuse boxes
  • Energized electrical equipment
  • Computers
  • Other electrical sources

Class extinguishers are used for kitchen fires such as:

  • Fires involving combustible cooking fluids such as oils and fats

Multipurpose extinguishers combine Class A,B,and C  is a multi-purpose dry chemical extinguisher and can be used on:

  • Class A,B and C fires.

Now that we have gone over the types of fire extinguishers in your home, what do you do in the event of a fire at your home?

  1. Call the Fire department immediately
  2. Make sure you have a safe exit strategy before approaching the fire. Do not allow the fire to come between you or your exit.
  3. Identify the proper fire extinguisher needed ( Having an A,B,C extinguisher would cover all possible scenarios)
  4. Use the P.A.S.S. technique to extinguish the fire . P.A.S.S. stands for Pull, Aim, Squeeze and Sweep.
  5. Back away from the extinguished fire in case of a flare up.
  6. Evacuate immediately if the extinguisher is empty and /or the fire progresses past the initial stage.

If the fire is out of control or you doubt your ability to extinguish it ...EVACUATE IMMEDIATELY! The safety of you and your family is of the utmost importance, personal belongings and homes can be replaced, your life can not.

After the fire has been extinguished by you or the fire department give us a call here at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield. We have years of experience in fire and water damage. Our team of technicians is experienced and trained in dealing with fire and water clean up. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week , 365 days a year. Call us at 847-557-1080.

Preventing Electrical Fires in your Home

6/13/2019 (Permalink)

Overloading circuits are a major cause of home fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 47,700 home fires in the U.S. are caused by electrical failures or malfunctions each year. These fires result in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage. Overloaded electrical circuits are a major cause of residential fires. Help lower your risk of electrical fires by not overloading your electrical system.

Overloaded circuit warning signs:

  • Flickering, blinking, or dimming lights
  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
  • Warm or discolored wall plates
  • Cracking, sizzling, or buzzing from receptacles
  • Burning order coming from receptacles or wall switches
  • Mild shock or tingle from appliances, receptacles, or switches

When choosing lighting for your home, it is important to understand that some light switches have more functions than simply turning on lights.  These added features such as timers and dimmers can make your home more convenient and efficient. If you are thinking of making a switch, contact a qualified electrician to make sure that the lighting you choose is compatible with your home.  And remember, all light switches should be installed by a professional.

Don't Take These Warning Signs Lightly:

  • The wall plate is hot to the touch.
  • There is discoloration of or around the switch plate.
  • Lights dim and/or flicker without cause.
  • You hear crackling, popping, or buzzing from your outlet.
  • Often Breakers trip or fuses blow when the switch is turned on.
  • You detect an odor when a switch is used.
  • The switch leans to one side or feels loose when operating.
  • You often experience a shock when operating the switch.
  • Lights get brighter or dimmer when other appliances turn on or off.
  • The home is over 40 years old and has aluminum wiring, but has not recently undergone a safety inspection by an electrician.  

If your lighting control points are characterized by any of the above, have your home's electrical system inspected by a qualified electrician as soon as possible.

How to prevent electrical overloads:

  • Never use extension cords or multi-outlet converters for appliances
  • All major appliances should be plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet. Only plug one heat producing appliance into a receptacle outlet at a time
  • A heavy reliance on extension cords is an indication that you have too few outlets to address your needs. Have a qualified electrician inspect your home and add new outlets
  • Power strips only add additional outlets; they do not change the amount of power being received from the outlet

Hopefully these tips can help keep your home safe and protected from fires caused by electrical malfunction, though accidents do occur. Our crews here at SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield see a handful of electrical fires each year, especially during the summer when extra fans and a/c units are plugged in and in winter when plug in heaters are in use as well as holiday lights. 

Dealing with Smoke and Soot after a Fire

3/7/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield specializes in Fire and Odor remediation

If you’re dealing with fire damage, it’s time to call the professionals at SERVPRO of Highland Park/ Deerfield. There are several, little-known facts that are crucial to smoke damage restoration procedures. Put your health and property first by learning more about the recovery period.

Ventilation is the First Step

Immediately following a fire, focus on ventilation for the home. The professionals may not be on-site yet, but you can improve the situation right now. Open the doors and windows. Use any fans within the home to move air out of the structure. Our Technicians will bring in industrial fans for this purpose, but get the process started yourself.

Consider your health when it comes to ventilation too. Wear dust masks if you must be inside the home. Remove children, pets and older residents from the premises. The particles in the air can be irritating to some people.

Odors Don’t Dissipate on Their Own

There’s a misconception about fire damage cleanup and ventilation. You might believe that fire odors will simply dissipate with enough fans blowing in the house. Soot and other fire byproducts are chemically based substances. Unless they’re physically removed, they’ll continue to react with the drywall, wood and other materials.

Our smoke damage restoration professionals will clean, remove and service the structure as necessary. They’ll deodorize rooms with careful attention to humidity and corrosion issues. There shouldn’t be any remaining odors after a professional cleanup job. Subtle odors equate to dirty conditions that will only grow stronger over time.

Soot Moves into Every Crevice

Cleaning off the walls and ceilings is only the beginning of the fire damage cleanup process. Most people don’t realize that soot is an extremely fine particle. It floats and lands on nearly every surface. If you have light fixtures near the damaged area, be sure to remove the bulbs and clean them. Soot finds its way into the threaded base. Hazards arise if you turn the fixture on without cleaning it first. Soot can be a fire hazard if it’s not cleaned away in its entirety.

Smoke Damage Restoration Applies to Electronics and Antiques

If soot can find its way into light fixtures, your electronics might fall prey to it too. Discuss fire damage cleanup in reference to your televisions, audio receivers, and other devices. It may take time to restore these items, but it’s worth the effort when it’s done right.

Think about any antiques that you might have as well. SERVPRO restoration experts can bring these items back to life. When an antique has either sentimental or monetary value, restoring it should be part of your recovery process.

Have Questions about Fire, Smoke, or Soot Damage?

Call Us Today 847-557-1080

Stay warm without disasters

2/26/2019 (Permalink)

Staying warm doesn't have to be a worry

Winter is still around so we are all still dealing with lower temperatures. Many people use alternative heat sources like fireplaces, portable space heaters, and wood burning stoves to help keep homes warm. Did you know, heating equipment is a leading cause of home fire deaths? According to the National Fire Protection Association, heating equipment fires cause an estimated $1 billion in direct property damage annually. Keep the following safety tips in mind to help reduce your risk of a heating-related fires in your home during the colder weather.

  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
  • Remember to turn portable heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed.
  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet away from heating equipment, like the furnace, fireplace, wood stove, or a portable space heater. Have a three foot “kid-free zone” around open fires and space heater
  • Test smoke alarms monthly
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected every year by a qualified professional.

If you need help cleaning up after a fire call SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield 847-557-1080

Keep the Fire in your relationship and out of your Home

2/8/2019 (Permalink)

Fires can start so easy and spread so quickly

Are you planning a romantic night in to show that special someone you care this month? While you prep and prepare, keep in mind that cooking equipment is the #1 cause of house fires so make sure you are keeping an eye on that delicious dish you are preparing. It only takes seconds to start a fire that can engulf your whole kitchen and put a huge damper on your special night in.

Ways to Prevent Kitchen Fires

  • Make sure your smoke alarm is working
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking
  • Keep potholders, towels and paper towels away from the stove top
  • Turn off your burner and oven when not in use

Once you have your meal ready don’t forget some mood lighting…

Candles are always a first choice, but did you know they are among the top 5 causes of house fires. Salt lamps, fairy lights, table lamps, oil diffusers, wax warmers and flameless luminaries can help you “set the mood” without worry so your night can go exactly as planned.

If the unfortunate happens, call SERVPRO of Highland Park/Deerfield. We are here to help clean up and rebuild after a fire with our highly trained staff and specialized equipment. We make it "Like it never even happened."

Cleaning up After a Fire: Interview with Ryan on Fire Cleaning

7/18/2018 (Permalink)

Nothing prepares you for a fire. SERVPRO® of Highland Park/ Deerfield understands the frustration that comes after the fire is out.

What are some of the first steps SERVPRO® takes when a homeowner or business experiences a fire?

We walk through the structure with the property owner and adjuster. We determine how much of the property is affected, how we are going to clean it, and see what can be salvaged. Then, depending on the type of fire, determine the steps needed to clean everything. Sometimes we can clean items on site if there is light soot. Other times, we carefully pack up the items, and clean them in our Gurnee facility.

Will all my contents be thrown away after a fire?

Not necessarily. It really depends on the severity of the fire. Anything highly porous may need to be thrown away. Some examples being: plastics, Tupperware, medication, and toiletries. It’s really up to the property owner to choose. We never toss anything without the owner and adjuster approval. We use a system called ContentsTrack to keep track of all the items that we store/clean in our facility. We always document all of the contents in a home with photographs and write everything down. With this system, we always know where every item is in our facility.

What type of items can be saved after a fire?

Non porous materials: glass, epoxy finished woods, ceramics, and plates are a few examples. With light smoke/soot damage we can save many items from couches, carpet, drywall, to furniture.

Can you explain the pretesting process that you go through after a fire?

We walk the entire property to see the extent of the damage. We start testing in the heavier concentrated areas and work our way out. We test the severity of the fire with a chemically treated dry sponge by testing the walls, ceilings, and contents to determine where the smoke and soot damage has migrated. We do a visual inspection to see carbon buildup in ceilings. We note the contrast of the soot build up to see the degree of damage, and this shows us the best way to clean and restore the fire damaged structure. We then determine what can be cleaned, what can’t be cleaned, and what doesn’t need to be cleaned.

How long does it take to clean up after a home has experienced a fire?

Each fire, smoke, and soot damage job is different, and we can’t give a concrete time. Each job is unique and it depends on the severity of the fire and how many contents the property has that have been affected.  

  • On average, packing out an entire structure usually takes a crew 2-3 days.
  • Structure Cleaning, on average, with a full crew of say a single family home would be about 1-2 days.
  • Average time for content cleaning takes 1-2 days.
  • The reconstruction time depends on what has been affected and needs to be rebuilt.

How long have you worked for SERVPRO?

2 years                                                   

What did you do before?

General construction 

What are some of the challenges?

Confined spaces 

What are some of the rewards?

Helping people in their time of need 

During the process, homeowners are stressed and upset. What do you do to reassure homeowners that it will be ok?

Calm, courteous, let them know that we are there to do anything we can to help with process. 

How do you manage to balance the homeowner’s needs and Insurance Needs?

We listen and communicate with the adjuster and homeowner. 

How soon are you on site for Property Claims?

Depends on the customer’s schedule. If they need us to be there right away, we will be.