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"After the Fire" Info

Our primary job is to protect the lives and property of the residents of El Dorado County Fire Protection District; as firefighters we regularly see the devastation fire can leave behind.

The trauma of experiencing a fire, no matter how large or small, can only be surpassed by the confusion of “what to do once the fire is out” and the firefighters have left.

Once the fire is out, the damage becomes another complete task and a statistic for us. However, for you the occupant, it is a nightmare filled with uncertainties that must be dealt with immediately.

We at the El Dorado County Fire Protection District understand what you are going through and want to assist you all we can. This booklet which includes information and suggestions, may help you now and through the coming days.

If there is anything we can help you with please call us at 530-644-9630.

Be sure to notify your insurance company/agent as soon as possible

Securing the Site

The fire department will remove as much water and debris as possible from the fire building before truning the building over to the owner. It is the responsibility of the owner to see that the property is secure after the fire department leaves the scene. There are several contractors listed in our local yellow pages under “fire & water damage restoration.” Most of the companies listed will provide 24 hour restoration service.

The site of the fire needs to be protected from further damage be weather, theft or vandalism.

  • If you are the owner, it is your responsibility to see that holes are covered against rain and entry, and that outside doors to your home can be locked or secured.
  • Contact your insurance agent. He or she must be notified of the fire and may also be able to help you in making immediate repairs.
    Try to remove any valuables remaining in the building. Do not leave until the site has been secured.
  • If you are a tenant, contact the resident manager, the owner or the owner’s insurance agent. It is the owner’s responsibility to prevent further loss to the building. See that your personal belongings are secure either within the building or by moving them to another location, such as the home of a relative or friend.
  • Contact your own insurance agent to report the fire

Contact your local disaster relief services such as the American Red Cross or the salvation army, if you are in need of temporary housing, food, eyeglasses or medicines destroyed in the fire. Emergency relief is given without regard to income. The phone book can give you contact information.


Fire can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains. Be watchful for the signs of heat or smoke.

  • Household wiring which may have been damaged by water or heat should be checked by a licensed electrician before the electrical current is truned back on.
  • Be watchful for any structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be weakened. The fire department will secure property we believe to be a safety hazard.
  • Food, beverages and medicines exposed to heat, smoke or soot should be discarded. Do not attempt to refreeze thawed items.
    Notify your physician and/or your pharmacist for replacement of medications.
  • The fire department will see that the utilities (water, electric, or natural gas) are either safe to use or are disconnected before we leave.
  • The utility companies will not make repairs on the customer’s side of the meter; therefore, a private contractor will have to be contacted to make repairs. All repairs of this nature require permits and inspection by the building department. The utility companies will not restore your utilities until the repairs are approved by the building department. Do not attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.

Leaving Your Home

This may be your decision or that of the fire department or based on the building inspector’s judgement that the residence is unsafe.

If you must leave:

  • Contact the sheriffs office so they can patrol the property during your absence
  • Try to locate the following items tio take with you
  • All important identification
  • Vital medicines such as insulin, or heart medication
  • Eyeglasses, hearing aids or other personal aids
  • Valuables such as money, insurance policies, credit cards, jewelry, check book, etc.

If you feel you may be out of your building for an extended period of time, notify the following of your relocation:

  • Post office to hold or forward your mail to new address
  • Your bank
  • Your employer
  • Family and friends
  • Schools
  • Utility companies
  • Social security administration
  • Insurance agent/company
  • Fire department-if the fire is under investigation
  • Delivery services; newspaper, etc.


The first thing to do after a fire is to contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. If you are renting the property, you should contact the owner. Your insurance agent may be able to help you in making immediate repairs. Insurance companies tend to have access to emergency repair contractors.

Mobile Home insurance coverage is similar to other forms of homeowners coverage. Check with your agent for your coverage.

If your property is not insured or if your insurance will not cover all your losses, contact your family lawyer. You may have to depend on your own resources and help from other agencies to recover your fire loss. Check with the American Red Cross or Salvation Army, local church groups or civic organizations for assistance.

Some losses due to fire may be tax deductible on your federal income tax. Be sure to keep receipts of money spent for repairs or replacing damaged property and in covering your living expenses. These receipts will be helpful in calculating the loss for your yearly tax return.

Check with your local internal revenue service office for publication 547; Tax information on disasters, casualty losses and thefts. A quick refund may be possible if you file the proper forms.

Personal injury
if, as a result of the fire you, a member of your family or a friend is injured and the injuries require more than immediate care, contact your health insurance agent for further directions.

Money Replacement

Paper Currency
Note: handle burned money as little as possible. Attempt to encase each bill or portion of bill in plastic wrap for preservation.

If the money you’ve kept in your home is burned one half or less, check with any local commercial bank or take the remainder to the Federal Reserve Bank. You can also mail the remainder of the money (in plastic wrap) via first class mail to:

U.S. Treasury Department/Main Treasury Bldg.
Room 1123
Washington, DC 20220

Mutilated coins can be taken to the Federal Reserve Bank or mailed via first class registered mail to:

U.S. Mint
5th and Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19015

Savings Bonds
If your U.S. Savings Bonds have been mutilated or destroyed, write to:

U.S. Treasury Dept/Bond Consultant
Bureau of Loans and Currency
537 W. Clark St.
Chicago, Il 60603

Be sure to include name and address on bonds, approximate date or time when purchased, denominations and approximate number of each.

Salvage Hints

The following salvage information was furnished by the fire center of the University of Minnesota as reprinted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Fire Administration.

These hints are meant as an economical way to clean up or salvage items after a small fire. Be sure to contact yur insurance company to see exactly what they will cover. Also, consider taking pictures of the damage.

Caution: several of the cleaning mixtures contain the substance tri-sodium phosphate. Tri-sodium phosphate is a caustic substance used commonly as a cleaning agent. It should be used with care and stored out of the reach of children and pets. Read instructions before you start. (Tri-sodium phosphate can be purchased from your local hardware store.)

The use of rubber gloves and goggles is suggested.

  • Vacuum all services
  • Change and clean air conditioner filters
  • Seal off the room in which you are working with plastic to keep soot from moving from one location to another. Try to keep windows closed.


Windows and Ceilings

To remove soot and smoke from painted walls, mix together:

  • 4-6 tablespoons tri-sodium phosphate
  • 1 gallon of water

Wash a small area at a time working from the floor up. Do ceilings last. Rinse thoroughly. Do not re-paint until completely dry! It is advisable that you use a smoke sealer before painting (available at your paint store).

Wall paper usually cannot be restored. Check with your wallpaper dealer.


Wood Furniture

Do not use chemicals on furniture. An inexpensive product called flax soap (available in hardware and paint stores) is a most efficient product to use on wood, including kitchen cabinets. If you do not have flax soap:

  • Wipe off with borax dissolved in hot water to remove mildew
  • To remove white spots or film, rub the surface with a cloth soaked in 1/2 cup water and _ cup vinegar solution

Then wipe dry and polish with wax. You can also rub the wood surface with 4/0 steel wool dipped in liquid polishing wax, wipe with soft cloth and then buff.

Note: wet wood can decay and mold, so dry well-but do not dry in direct sunlight as the wood may warp and twist out of shape.

Wood and Vinyl Floors
Use flax soap on wood and vinyl floors. It will take 4 to 5 applications. Then strip and re-wax. When water gets underneath linoleum, it can cause odors and warp the floor. If this has happened remove your linoleum. Call your linoleum dealer for suggestions on how to loosen the adhesive without damaging floor covering. Be sure to let the floor dry thoroughly before replacing it.

Carpets and Rugs
Rugs and carpets should be allowed to dry thoroughly. Throw rugs can be cleaned by beating, sweeping or vacuuming and then shampooing. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Lay them flat and expose them to a circulation of warm, dry air. A fan turned on the rugs will speed drying. Make sure the rugs are thoroughly dry. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly rot a rug. For more information on cleaning and preserving carpets call your carpet dealer.

Reconditioning an innerspring mattress at home is nearly impossible. Your mattress can probably be renovated by a company that builds or repairs them.

If you must use your mattress temporarily, put it out in the sun to dry. Then cover it with plastic sheeting. It is impossible to remove the odor of smoke from pillows. The foam and feathers hold in the odor.

Locks, Hinges, Typewriters, Sewing Machines and other Small Appliances
Steam from a fire removes lubrication from these items. They should be taken apart and oiled. It is suggested that these items be taken to a repair shop. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole and work the knob to distribute the oil. Hinges should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.

Cooking Utensils
Your pots, pans, flatware, etc., should be washed with a fine-powdered cleanser. You can polish copper and brass with special polish, or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated in vinegar.

Refrigerators and Freezers
To remove odors from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water or use one cup of vinegfar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Baking soda in an open container, or a piece of charcoal can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb odor.

Caution: when cleaning or discarding any refrigerator or freezer, be sure the doors are removed or secured against closing on a young child!

If your freezer has stopped running, you can still save the frozen food.

  • Keep the freezer closed. Your freezer has enough insulation to keep food frozen for at least one day-perhaps more.
  • Move your food to a neighbor’s freezer or a commercial freezer-firm. Wrap the frozen food in newspaper and blankets, or used insulated boxes.

If your food has thawed, observe the following procedures:

  • Fruits can be refrozen if they still taste and smell good. Otherwise, if the fruits are not spoiled, they can be eaten at once.
  • Vegetables should not be frozen if they have thawed completely. Refreeze only if they have ice crystals in the vegetables. If your vegetables have thawed and cannot be used soon, throw them out! Don’t wait for a bad odor.
  • Meats may be refrozen (if ice crystals remain) but cook very thoroughly before tasting. If odor is poor or if you question these foods, throw them out. Bacteria multiply rapidly.

Caution: test colored garments before using any treatment!

Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from clothing. The following formula will often work for clothing that can be bleached:

  • 4-6 teaspoons tri-sodium phosphate
  • 1 cup lysol or any household chlorine bleach
  • 1 gallon warm water

Mix well-add clothes, rinse with clean water-dry well.

To remove mildew, wash the fresh stain with soap and water. Then rinse and dry in the sun. If the stain isn’t gone, use lemon juice and salt or dilute solution of household chlorine bleach.

Take wool, silk or rayon to the dry cleaners as soon as possible.

Leather and Books
Wipe your leather goods with a damp cloth, then with a dry cloth. Stuff your purses and shoes with newspapers to retain their shape. Leave your suitcases open. Leather goods should be dried away from heat and sun. When leather goods are dry, clean with saddle soap. You can use steel wool or a suede brush on suede. Rinse leather and suede jackets in cold water and dry away from heat and sun.

Books can be dried by placing them on end with the pages separated. Then they should be piled and pressed to prevent the pages from crinkling. Alternating drying and pressing will help prevent mildew from forming, until the books are thoroughly dry. If your books are very damp, sprinkle cornstarch or talc between the pages, leave for several hours, then brush off. A fan turned on the books will help them dry.

How to Use 9-1-1

Dial “911” for Emergency

  • 911 Can be dialed from any phone in the El Dorado County area
  • When calling, state the nature of the emergency
  • Give the address of the emergency
  • Remain calm and answer any questions that the 911 operator has for you. The operator wants to help you, but won’t be able to if you’re too excited.
  • Speak clearly and do not shout into the phone
  • Do not hang up the phone until the 911 operator has done so
  • Do not call your local fire department you will receive faster service when you dial 911

Records and Documents

Documents and records are very important to your well being and can be damaged or destroyed as a result of a fire. For this reason, the El Dorado County Fire Protection District provides the following list of records and documents that should be located and/or replaced. Locating these documents will speed up the process of recovering from a fire.

Item Agency/Local Phone Number
Drivers License/Auto TitleDMV 530-622-2820
Military Discharge Forms Veterans Administration 530-621-5892
Passports Postal Service 530-622-6443
Birth/Death Certificates Vital Statistics 530-621-6100
Citizenship Papers Immigration 1-800-755-0777
Social Security Card 1-800-772-1213
Titles To Deeds Records Dept. 530-621-5490
Income Tax Records 1-800-829-3676
Welfare Office/Food Stamps Case Worker 530-621-6300
Adult Services Case Worker 530-621-6235
Marriage/Divorce Records State Where Administered
El Dorado County Telephone Directory
Agency Phone Number
American Red Cross 530-626-5491
Department Of Motor Vehicles 530-622-2820
Federal Information Center 1-415-923-7100
El Dorado County Fire District Emergency 911
Administration 530-644-9630
El Dorado County Social Services 530-642-7130
Internal Revenue Service 1-800-829-367
El Dorado County Building Dept. 530-621-5315
El Dorado County Records Dept. 530-621-5490
El Dorado County Sheriffs Dept. Emergency 911
Administration 530-621-5655
El Dorado County Vital Stats. 530-621-6118
El Dorado Transit 530-621-5615
Salvation Army 530-672-3147
Social Security 530-626-8421
Veterans Administration 530-621-5892
Voter Information 530-621-7480
About Our Operations

Here are a few common questions people have about our operations:

  • Why are windows broken or holes cut in the roof?As a fire burns, it spreads upward and outward, breaking the windows and/or cutting holes in the roof (called ventilation) directs that movement to the firefighters advantage, allowing the fire to be extinguished more efficiently resulting in less damage to the structure.
  • Why was it necessary to pull down the ceilings?Ceilings are pulled primarily to allow quick access to the attic for fire extinguishment. Secondarily, buildings that contain cellulose insulation represent a special problem for firefighters. The material is made of pulverized news paper and a fire retardant material. Fires are almost impossible to locate and extinguish when this material is present. The only method of insuring that the fire is out is to remove the cellulose insulation material.
  • Why do we cut holes in walls?We have to be absolutely sure that the fire is completely out, and that there is no fire inside the walls or other hidden places. We will do the least amount of damage necessary to insure everything is safe.
  • Is it possible to obtain a copy of the fire report?Yes, a fire report is a public document and is available at El Dorado County Fire Protection District Administrative Offices located at 4040 Carson Road, Camino. Please allow two business days prior to your request.
Fire Incident# ____________________ Date _________________
Officer In Charge _____________________________________
Investigator At Scene _________________________________
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