Protein Fires: Everything You Need to Know

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 21, 2024

Burning the evening meal ruins dinner plans, but it doesn’t usually result in a kitchen filled with smoke and flames. A protein fire doesn’t produce smoke or flames either, but it’s a disaster that impacts the kitchen and your entire home. Let’s take a closer look at how it happens and your best options for dealing with the aftermath.

What Is a Protein Fire?

A protein fire doesn’t set off billows of dark smoke or send flames leaping to the ceiling. It happens when the roast burns to a char. It occurs when your favorite chicken dish is reduced to a blackened solid.

Burned protein coats everything in the kitchen and adjacent rooms with an invisible residue. It leaves behind a foul smell that’s much stronger than regular smoke odor. The contamination is very different from kitchen fire damage caused by an oven or faulty appliance.

At first, damages might appear to be minor. It doesn’t take long to realize that a sticky film covers everything in the kitchen. The residue and terrible stench affects surrounding rooms and can easily spread through your home.

How to Clean After a Protein Fire

The best way to clean up after a protein fire is to let a certified restoration company handle the work. You can often tackle the kitchen after a regular fire, but protein fire cleanup belongs in the hands of industry-trained technicians. These do’s and don’ts make the job easier.

film on wall due to protein fire


• Do contact your insurance agent and a fire restoration company as soon as possible.

• Do throw out packaged and canned food items in cabinets and pantry closets.

• Do be aware that your touch spreads protein fire residue through the house. Keep hands washed.

• Do protect carpets and floors by laying down old sheets. Minimize foot traffic in contaminated areas.


• Don’t try removing the gummy film with household cleaners. They won’t work.

• Don’t try to figure out how to get burnt smells out of your home. Leave it to the pros.

• Don’t wash affected clothes and fabrics. They’ll need specialized cleaning.

• Don’t try to take care of grease stains. You’ll push contaminants deeper into surfaces.

• Don’t wait to call certified fire restoration specialists. Time isn’t on your side.

How to Prevent Protein Fires

Most house fires start out as cooking mishaps. The same precautions you take to prevent kitchen fires help minimize the risks of protein fires. Use these five tips to prevent a protein fire in your kitchen.

1. Cook with safe techniques specifically recommended for different proteins.

2. Avoid excessive temperatures and extended cooking times.

3. Use splatter guards to keep grease stains from accumulating on surrounding surfaces.

4. Make sure the kitchen is closely monitored during the cooking process.

5. Always keep an OSHA-rated Class K fire extinguisher within easy reach of the cooking area.

Why You Need Fire Restoration Professionals

Dealing with the aftermath of such a fire isn’t easy. Walls, floors, cabinets and fixtures are covered with a gooey film. The almost-invisible layering coats appliances, furniture and fabrics and fills the house with a foul smell. Cleanup is never a DIY project.

Fire restoration professionals tackle the job with specialized equipment and products. Industry-certified technicians remove damaging residue and eliminate overwhelming odors from all surfaces and materials. The process is involved, and it can take several days.

The overall time required to complete protein fire cleanup depends on these factors:

  • The type of food that was the fire source
  • The degree of temperature that resulted in the fire
  • How long it burned before being extinguished
  • The extent of residue and odor contamination throughout the home

By calling in a fire damage restoration company, you know a difficult job will be taken care of as efficiently and quickly as possible. You also have access to experienced professionals who can help with everything from cleaning personal belongings to filing your fire damage insurance claim.

Dealing With a Protein Fire in Chicago, IL? We Can Help

If you’re dealing with protein fire contamination in your home, count on us here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba. Our teams completely restore fire-damaged kitchens for Chicago residents, and we cover the suburbs too.

We’re here for you 24/7 ready to answer your call: 773-647-1985

How is a protein fire different from other fires?

A protein fire burns at a lower temperature than regular kitchen fires. It doesn’t produce volumes of smoke or soot. Instead, the burning protein in animal fat becomes a foul-smelling mist that coats surfaces.

What kind of damage is caused by a protein fire?

The sticky residue from a protein fire permeates porous surfaces. It coats floors and ceilings and spreads through HVAC ductwork. This makes cleanup and odor removal very difficult.

Does homeowners insurance cover protein fires?

In most cases, yes. Protein fire cleanup and restoration should be covered by your homeowners insurance. Confirm your policy’s details with your agent.