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What Are the Real Hidden Dangers of a Residence Fire?

Posted on February 6, 2019

After the fire department is gone, homeowners may reenter the home. They may think that once the fire department clears the area that it is safe to inhabit the home. However, the family may not be aware of dangers that still linger. Some of the most common dangers after a residence fire are discussed below.


Soot is the black residue that remains after a fire. This residue is usually made up of carbon and settles into the surrounding environment after a fire. Soot contains particles of anything that was burned, including natural and synthetic materials. Soot may contain poisonous dust, chemicals, acids, metals and other hazards. This soot can impact the quality of indoor air and leave foul odors and stains in your home. Homeowners can inhale this soot, potentially causing respiratory problems.


Smoke is another danger of reentering a home after a house fire. The smoke contains a combination of toxic products in the home. It may contain carbon monoxide, cyanide and burnt synthetic materials, like rubber, plastic or foam. The home may contain toxic materials if it is older, including asbestos or lead that can be released into the environment. These materials are associated with serious medical conditions, including incurable mesothelioma and lead poisoning. The burnt materials in a home can cause the production of carbon monoxide, ammonia, tar, sulfur dioxide and more than 100 chemicals found in cigarette smoke.

When certain particles burn, they can cause cyanide poisoning. Others may suffer carbon monoxide poisoning, which can result in death, neurological problems or cognitive delays. Inhaling toxic fumes can cause suffocation or respiratory issues. Being deprived of oxygen for only a few minutes can result in irreversible harm, brain damage or death.

Children, the elderly and individuals with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to sustaining adverse health consequences due to inhaling smoke after a residence fire.

Water and Chemicals in Firefighting Foam

The foam that firefighters use may contain groundwater and hydrocarbon-based chemicals. The foam may include perfluorochemicals. Fire extinguishers may contain similar materials. This foam may be left over after a fire. These chemicals have been linked to liver and kidney damage and reproductive problems. Additionally, these materials may cause a low birth weight if a pregnant woman is exposed to these chemicals. These chemicals can stay in the body for a long time.

Additionally, if it was a large fire, it is possible that the foam can seep into the soil under the home and into groundwater and contaminate it for years to come.

Seek Professional Assistance After a Residence Fire

Because there are so many potential dangers to your home and health after a fire, it is important that you seek professional assistance to properly restore your home. If you decide to move somewhere else, having the help of an experienced broker like Allen Levin can ease the process.

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