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Structural Damage Claims on the Rise from Recent Arizona Wildfires


The Wallow Fire in Arizona has burned over 500,000 acres and is still not completely contained. Meanwhile in Sierra Vista, Arizona, the Monument Fire has caused evacuations and destroyed dozens of homes.

Despite the valiant efforts of fire responders, these wildfires have resulted in some structures being completely burned or partially burned. During wildfires, building components and contents can be directly impacted by fire. Direct damages from the burning or combustion of materials are typically quite obvious.

For structures untouched by fire, indirect impacts from wildfires can still occur. Often the impacts to the structure and contents are not readily apparent to the occupants upon their return.

Some common environmental issues to consider on unburned structures include:
Accumulation of wildfire smoke residues may warrant cleaning.
o Smoke is a complex mixture of particles, liquids and gaseous compounds. Wildfire smoke is a by-product of the combustion of wild land plant fuels, as well as any structures in the path of the wildfire.
o The type of materials burned and the temperature at which they burn generally determine the composition of the wildfire smoke.
o Professional assessment is often required to determine if a structure is, or is not, impacted by residual smoke.
o The main objective of these types of investigations is to determine the presence or absence of smoke residues (i.e. markers such as soot, ash, and char) related to the wildfire event.
Structures may be damaged by water used in fire suppression and or rainwater falling on compromised buildings.
o Left unchecked, wet structure and contents can result in environmental issues such as the growth of mold.
Repair or cleanup efforts may require homeowners and contractors to address building materials subject to Federal environmental regulations.
o Disturbance (i.e. demolition or renovation) of building materials, require consideration of regulated environmental issues such as asbestos and lead based paint. Asbestos and lead-based paint (LBP) testing is often required by the EPA and/or OSHA. Asbestos testing or presumption of asbestos containing materials (ACM) is required in public buildings regardless of age. Child occupied buildings built before 1978 require the consideration of lead-based paint (LBP). OSHA requires you protect workers from known hazards, many of which have hazard specific permissible exposure limits (PELs) such as asbestos and lead.

Clark Seif Clark (CSC) can help determine whether or not a home or workplace is impacted by fire. Further, CSC can determine the presence of asbestos or lead-based paint in structures where repairs are scheduled. CSC has been performing environmental consulting and testing related to fires for many years, including the 2002 Arizona Rodeo-Chedeski Fire, the 2007 San Diego area Witch Creek & Harris Fires and the August 2009 Los Angeles area Station Fire.

To learn more about how CSC can help after a fire or for other environmental and indoor air quality (IAQ) services, please visit, email or call (800) 807-1118.

About Clark Seif Clark (CSC)
CSC was established in 1989 to help clients in both the public and private sectors address environmental health and safety (EH&S) issues. CSC is a leading provider of these services with multiple offices along the western seaboard and southwest. The company believes in science-based protocols and has a strong background in engineering, making them the preferred environmental consultants to healthcare facilities, architects, schools, builders, contractors, developers and real estate professionals.


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