A small fire that began in a single unit quickly spread to adjoining apartments; the end result is four units that are almost completely uninhabitable.
Tulsa Fire Department Capt. Ryan Runyan says investigators have yet to determine a cause for the blaze, which began around 10 a.m. on the 7900 block of Riverside Parkway. No injuries were reported, but at least four units were heavily damaged by fire, smoke, and/or water. Shortly after first responders brought the fire under control, Red Cross volunteers arrived to assist displaced victims.
Officials estimate that at least six families may need relocation assistance.
Last year, over 500,000 fires caused over $10 billion in property damage in the United States alone. Most of these losses are direct ones, and although many people assume that the flames themselves are the most serious hazard, water and smoke can be even more destructive. Latent moisture nearly always causes mold buildup in unseen areas, a condition that often creates future legal issues in terms of both property damage and personal injury.
Smoke damage can be even more extensive. Ashes cause discoloration on some surfaces within just a few minutes, and even fiberglass and metal often tarnishes in a few hours or days. In addition to corrosion, smoke nearly always causes unpleasant odors that seep into carpet, bedding, linens, and furniture; in many cases, such odor can render the space uninhabitable under Oklahoma law and justify lease abandonment.
Fires also often mean secondary or indirect losses. Damaged structures are also tempting targets for vandals, looters, squatters, and other individuals who, at best, have no interest in preserving the property. There are additional concerns as well. For example, if children decide to “play firefighter” in the abandoned structure and are injured, liability could attach to the landowner under the attractive nuisance rule.
Step One: Securing the Premises
Most insurance policies state that it is the owner’s responsibility to secure the premises after a loss, and since insurance companies lose money when they pay claims, they often use the unsecured-property loophole to reduce the payment or deny the claim altogether. A “keep out” sign is hardly sufficient in these cases, so owners must often do things like:
- Seal Entrances: Because the smoke often corrodes the drywall, using a hammer and nails to stretch a slate of plywood over a window may cause extensive damage. Furthermore, such self-help efforts may or may not satisfy the persnickety insurance company.
- Deter Trespassers: On-site security may be necessary in a few cases, but more often than not, a temporary fence and an occasional security drive-by usually convince would-be trespassers to look elsewhere.
- Mitigate Damages: Waterlogged carpets must be dried, the air must be cleared, and other measures must be taken.
Professionals should always secure damaged premises, to help ensure maximum insurance payouts.
Step Two: Restoration
Time is of the essence, because every day a structure is closed, a commercial landowner loses money. So, the decision of who to call may be one of the most important choices in the entire process. Some companies have considerable resources but lack contractors with considerable local experience, and some firms have the opposite problem.
In addition to being good contractors, restoration workers must be good negotiators as well. Regardless of what their agents imply, almost all insurance adjusters want to do the absolute minimum. Restoration contractors must not only explain what they are doing, but also why they are doing it and what the result would otherwise be.
Count on Experienced Professionals
Fire damage restoration requires a specialized touch. For prompt assistance from an experienced fire and water restoration contractor in Broken Arrow, contact Dason Fire & Water Restoration online or call 918-379-0390. We are available 24/7/365.