After Fire

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The Torrance Fire Department does only basic clean-up work after a fire. Please feel free to call us and ask questions about our operations.

If there are broken windows and holes in the roof, they were put there for ventilation. As a fire burns, it moves upward, then outward. These holes enable fire fighters to limit the amount of eventual damage. Fire technology studies have shown us that this fire fighting technique actually reduces the dollar amount of reconstruction. Holes are made in the walls to make absolutely sure all the fire is out and that there is none hidden in the walls and partitions.

Our role after the fire is out is to secure your property as much as possible by covering holes in the roof, covering all broken windows and ventilation.


Depending upon the kind of help you need, the Red Cross will assist you immediately.

  • Food, clothing, and tent
  • Urgent household needs
  • Medical, nursing, and hospital care
  • Temporary repairs to your home so that you can move back in
  • Replacement of personal occupational supplies and equipment

The Red Cross will provide information regarding government and other private agencies that may be of further help to you. If no such resources are available, the Red Cross may give you additional assistance for your recovery.

Bring identification that shows where you lived at the time of the disaster.


Your insurance agent should be called as soon as possible. Your insurance company will see to it that the house is boarded up or find out whether utilities can be restored. On rental property, the responsibility is usually with the owner. If your property is not insured or if insurance does not cover all losses, contact a lawyer or the Internal Revenue Service for information on tax deduction status.


Mutilated or melted coins are returnable at the nearest Federal Reserve Bank, or they may be mailed by “registered mail, return requested” to: Superintendent U.S. Mint, P.O. Box 400, Philadelphia, PA 19105.

Bills, half or more intact, should be taken to the Federal Reserve Bank or mailed as above, to: Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Office of Currency Standards, P.O. Box 37048, Washington, D.C. 20013.

Any mutilated or destroyed bonds are handled by: Department of the Treasury, Bureau of Public Debt, Savings Bond Operations, P.O. Box 1328, Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328; Attn: Bond Consultant. Include names and addresses on bonds, approximate date or time period purchased, denominations and approximate number of each.


AFDC and welfare clients should notify caseworkers if their ID cards have been destroyed. Copies of birth, death and marriage records can be obtained from the District Court Clerk in the county of birth, death or marriage.


Foods in cans or jars should be washed in detergent and water. If labels come off during the process, identify them with a grease pencil. Do not use bulged, dented or rusted cans.

Some freezer foods can be saved.

  • Keep the door or lid closed. Insulation keeps food frozen for one day and possibly up to three days.
  • Wrap frozen foods in newspapers, blankets or use insulated boxes when moving to another freezer or locker plant.
  • Do not refreeze vegetables that have completely thawed. Refreeze only if there are still ice crystals in the vegetables.

Freezer and refrigerator odor is removable by washing the inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or by using one cup of vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Open containers of baking soda or a piece of charcoal placed in the appliance often eliminates odors by absorption.


What seems to be an ever-lingering odor can often be washed from clothing. A tested recipe for clothing that can be bleached is as follows:

  • *4 to 6 tbsp. tri-sodium phosphate
  • 1 cup Lysol or household chlorine bleach
  • 1 gallon water
  • *2 tbsp. Sodium hypochlorite can be used as a substitute

Mix well, add clothes, rinse with clear water and dry.

Test colored garments before using any treatment.

Mildew is removable by washing the stain with soap and water, rinsing and drying in the sun. If the stain is difficult to erase, try lemon juice and salt; one-tablespoon bleach to one-pint lukewarm water; or a diluted solution of household chlorine bleach.


Linoleum must be handled delicately. When water gets underneath, it can cause odors and warped wood floors. A flooring dealer should be consulted. Mattresses needed temporarily must be put in the sun to dry and then covered with rubber or plastic sheeting.


Soot and smoke odor can be removed from walls, furniture and floors with the following solution:

  • 4 to 6 tbsp. Tri-sodium phosphate
  • 1 cup Lysol or any chlorine bleach
  • 1 gallon of water

Wear rubber gloves. After washing the articles, rinse with clear water and dry.


Wash walls with the above solution or soap/detergent while wet. Work from the floor up. Ceilings should be left until last. Do not repaint until the walls are completely dry.

Commercial products are available from wallpaper dealers to repair wallpaper. Washable paper can be washed like any wall, but do not soak the paper. To prevent streaking, work from the bottom to top.


Specific steps are necessary to repair wood furniture or fixtures.

  1. Clean off mud or dirt.
  2. Remove drawers and let dry thoroughly.
  3. Scrub with stiff brush and cleaning solution.
  4. Wet wood decays and molds easily. Ventilate the room or turn on furnace or air conditioner to dry thoroughly.
  5. Moldy furniture should be wiped with a cloth soaked in a mixture of water and kerosene or borax dissolved in hot water.
  6. Never dry furniture in the sun.
  7. To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with a 0000 steel polishing wool pad dipped in liquid wax. Wipe with a soft cloth and buff.

Some of the above mentioned cleaning agents are flammable. Use with caution.