Fire Damage in Chicago? Here’s What to Do Right Now

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

A stove top grease fire flares out of control. An unattended space heater sets nearby drapes on fire. Faulty wiring at your workplace sparks a fire that spreads through the property.

These are just a few examples of how quickly flames can devastate residential and commercial buildings in the Chicago area. Every year, fire departments across the country respond to more than 1.35 million property fires.

Do you know what to do when a fire damages your Chicago home or business?

Our teams here at ServiceMaster by Zaba want you to be prepared. Read on for important information and critical tips on how to deal with a property fire.

How Does Fire Damage Affect Your Home?

fire damage cleaning chicago

Both large and small house fires leave behind serious damages that impact your home’s safety and your health. These are the most common problems local homeowners face after a residential fire.

  • Structural damage to floors, ceilings, weight-bearing walls and beams
  • Widespread debris, such as broken glass and splintered wood
  • Toxic particle and chemical residue that can trigger health problems
  • Smoke-stained surfaces, furnishings and personal belongings
  • Water damage resulting from first responders extinguishing the fire

The damages need to be addressed by industry professionals like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba who handle structural issues and eliminate hazardous toxins. 

For example, our technicians stabilize fire-damaged interiors and clean up smoke and soot contamination.

How Does Fire Damage Affect My Business?

commercial property fire damage

A fire at a commercial property creates the same structural and health issues as a residential fire. However, there are additional concerns. You also have to deal with these problems after a fire at your business.

  • Damaged entryways, windows and roofs open to weather and vandalism
  • Hazardous asbestos and lead-based paint cleanup in older buildings
  • Fire-damaged business records, equipment and inventory
  • Loss of revenue due to downtime for cleanup and repairs
  • Reduced employee productivity and lower morale

It’s all hard on the bottom line, but there are ways to expedite recovery. We offer a range of commercial fire damage services that include emergency board-up and tarping, hazardous material mitigation and business contents restoration.

What Should I Do First?

You’re feeling confused and disoriented after the fire. You wonder where to start and who to call. 

Based on our years of experience restoring fire-damaged properties across Chicago, IL and the Suburbs, we recommend the following course of action.

1. Wait for the All-Clear

You don’t know how much you’ve lost. You want to see the damage first-hand. Stop, and put personal safety first. 

Wait for the firefighters to give the all-clear before re-entering your fire-damaged home or business.

2. Open Up to Fresh Air

If possible, open up windows so that fresh air can circulate through interiors. This helps reduce residual smoke and airborne toxins left over from the fire.

3. Be Hazard-Aware

Fire-damaged structures are often unstable. Door hinges can be loose, ceilings may have begun to crumble, and flooring might not bear your weight. 

Be aware of these hazards as you move from room to room. 

4. Carefully Document Damages 

Document the fire damage to your home or business with pictures. 

The photos can be a great help when filing your fire insurance claim. Again, be very careful and stay hazard-aware of your surroundings.

5. Arrange Alternative Lodging

It takes time to decontaminate, rebuild and restore interiors after a property fire. Plan on staying at a hotel or with family or friends for at least several days.

Who Should I Call First?

Always include these important numbers in your list of emergency contacts. 

Adding the numbers now can save valuable time when you’re facing the aftermath of a fire at the house or workplace.

1. City Utilities

Turning off the utilities in a fire-damaged building can be dangerous. 

Contact Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications for information on safely shutting down your property’s gas and electricity.

2. Your Insurance Company

Call your homeowners insurance company, explain the situation, and schedule an adjuster’s inspection. 

In the case of a business fire, contact your commercial insurance carrier, and give them an overview of your losses.

3. Call ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba

It’s important to begin cleanup and restoration as soon as possible. Call a company that can confirm industry certification in fire damage cleanup. 

Our teams here at ServiceMaster by Zaba are IICRC-certified in all aspects of fire and smoke damage restoration. Call us today: (773) 647-1985

4. Family, Friends and Employees

Let those close to you know what’s happened. As we noted, you may also need to ask them for a place to stay. 

If you’re dealing with a business fire, reach out to employees. Let them know what to expect in the coming days and weeks.

5. Your Local Red Cross

If you don’t have a place to stay after the fire, check with the American Red Cross, Illinois

They can often arrange temporary housing for families displaced by emergencies.

Helpful Resources for Chicago Residents

  • Chicago Fire Department – CFD offers multiple links to information covering general fire prevention, emergency evacuations, safety tips and building inspection guidelines.
  • Office of Illinois State Fire Marshal – This site provides multiple portals covering everything from seasonal fire safety to Life Safety Code requirements for day care facilities. 
  • U.S. Fire Administration – Download smoke alarm infographics for home use or posting in the workplace. The link also covers frequently asked questions about smoke alarms.
  • Illinois Fire Safety Alliance – This is another site offering downloadable information. FSA links to details about its smoke alarm installation program available for eligible Illinois residents.
  • Ready.Gov – Launched in 2003, Ready.Gov is a public service outreach that helps property owners prepare for and respond to fires, including tips on prevention, evacuation and child safety.

Are You Dealing With Fire Damage in Chicago? We Can Help

fire damage cleanup chicago team

We hope you never have to deal with the aftermath of fire damage at your Chicago home or business. If the worst does happen, we’re here for you.

Our teams are available 24/7 with an emergency response of 90 minutes or less. You can depend on ServiceMaster by Zaba for expert fire restoration services for homes and businesses.

We’re just a phone call away: 773-647-1985

What is the average cost of fire damage cleanup and restoration?

The cost of fire damage cleanup and restoration depends on the extent of damages and type of fire. The average cost ranges from $2,800 to $37,000. Typically, a homeowner can expect the cost to be around $19,000.

What are the dangers of fire damage?

A property fire leaves behind multiple dangerous problems, including: compromised structural integrity; indoor air contamination from soot and chemicals; and damaged electrical, gas and water systems.

What are the most common causes of fire damage in Chicago?

Most fires are caused by cooking. Heating equipment problems, electrical system breakdowns, cigarette smoking and open flames are also common causes of house fires in Chicago.