What to Do After a Condo Fire: 5 Critical Steps to Recovery

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 18, 2024

The aftermath of a fire in your condo impacts everything you do moving forward. The first few days are filled with hard decision-making. You have to deal with fire damage cleanup, ruined belongings and confusing insurance issues.

You hope it never happens to you, but are you prepared? Do you know what to do after a condo fire?

If you don’t have an action plan in place, now is the time to develop strategies that can help you through the worst. You want that peace of mind.

5 Steps to Take After a Condo Fire

Recovering from a condominium fire isn’t easy. The damage might not be limited to your unit. When it affects neighboring condos or common areas, different insurance policies come into play.

These five steps can minimize potential problems and help you stay on track.

1. Call Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance agent right away. Give him or her detailed information on how the fire started, the extent of damage to your condo and possible impact on adjacent units. Schedule an adjuster’s inspection as quickly as possible so that you can speed up the claims process.

2. Call a Restoration Contractor

Contact an experienced restoration contractor. If you don’t know who to call, ask your insurance agent for a reference. You want a full-service fire damage restoration company that handles condo fire and water damage repairs, reconstruction and mold remediation.

fire damage equipment
Professional fire restoration companies bring in heavy duty equipment to help restore your home

3. Don’t Take Chances

The hazards in a fire-damaged condo aren’t always obvious. If you stay in the unit before it’s fully cleaned and restored, stay safe with these tips.

  • Lay old towels or sheets over soot-covered carpets and furniture.
  • Keep soot out of ductwork by layering damp cheesecloth over air registers.
  • Have your condo’s wiring inspected by a certified electrician.
  • Throw away packaged food in cabinets and pantries.

4. Limit DIY Repairs

Limit your DIY repairs to securing the condo. You want the adjuster to see the full extent of damages. Leave things in place as they were immediately after the fire, including items that can’t be salvaged.

5. Document the Damages

If it’s safe to be inside your condo after the fire, take pictures of the damages. Work up a loss inventory for the adjuster. Include receipts for items like furniture, computers, TVs and appliances.

The Most Common Causes of Condo Fires

Prevention is the best strategy for reducing the risks of a fire in your unit. Make sure your home safety routines head off these common causes of fires in condominiums.

common cause of condo fire
Electrical fires are often the cause of condo fires – especially in Chicago
  • Unattended cooking
  • Old heating equipment
  • Electrical system problems
  • Candles and fireplaces
  • Malfunctioning appliances

It’s also important to have an evacuation plan in place. If your building hasn’t already developed emergency fire procedures, talk to the condo board. Get the neighbors involved too. Your action could save lives.

Understanding Condo Fire Insurance

When you assess damages after a condo fire, keep in mind that there are at least two condo insurance policies that may be applicable: your condo owner’s insurance and the association’s master insurance policy.

If other units are affected, those policies can come into play.

Become familiar with your building’s master policy. Some policies cover appliances and fixtures while others only cover walls and floors.

Discuss the details with your insurance agent so that you understand your coverage and liabilities.

Dealing with a Condo Fire in Chicago? We Can Help

Knowing what to do after a condo fire makes recovery a little easier. It’s also good to know you have a team you can depend on to help with the process.

We help condo residents in Chicago, IL recover from fire damage every week.

Here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, we’re standing by 24/7 with a full line of fire damage restoration services.

From cleanup and reconstruction to navigating insurance claims, we’re ready for your call: 773-647-1985

How can I document fire damage to my condo?

Take pictures of everything. Create a spreadsheet of damaged and lost items, and include their estimated value. Check saved emails and online accounts for copies of purchase receipts.

Is water damage a problem after a condo fire?

In many cases, water and extinguishing agents cause additional damage to the condo’s interiors and your belongings. A restoration contractor remediates both fire and water damage.

Can I stay in my smoke-damaged condo until it’s cleaned?

Be very careful about living in a condo after a fire. Smoke damage leaves behind soot particles that enter the body through the skin, eyes and mouth. The toxic particles can cause respiratory problems. Let restoration professionals clean the condo before you move back in.