You never think your home will be the one to catch fire. After all, that’s something that happens to other people, but not to you, right? Everyone who has ever fallen victim to a property fire had this same mindset prior to the incident. Yet every year more than 2,500 people die and 12,600 more are injured in home fires in the US. Property damage reaches an estimated $7.3 billion every year.
Temperatures in Property Fires
The heat generated in a property fire is actually more dangerous than the flames themselves. The heat alone can kill. Room temperatures may be 100 degrees at your feet, which doesn’t sound too bad until you realize heat rises.
At eye level, it could be 600 degrees, hotter than the highest setting on most residential ovens. Temperatures at the ceiling could reach 1,500 degrees! At this temperature, your clothes can melt to your skin. Breathing in this super-hot air can even sear your lungs.
Flashover: The Result of High Temperatures
The heat can become so intense that everything in the room ignites all at once, a process called flashover. This happens when combustible gases produced by smoldering and burning rise to the ceiling and form a superheated gas layer.
As the layer becomes thicker, it banks down to the floor, heating the objects there. If enough oxygen remains near the floor, then BANG – everything ignites, regardless of each item’s proximity to the blaze.
Flashover is an intense moment in a property fire. The instantaneous eruption produces tons of smoke, heat and pressure, often enough to break windows and burst open doors. When fresh air rushes into the room, rather than cooling off the blaze, it actually fuels the fire with oxygen and airflow, increasing the temperature further and helping the fire spread beyond the confines of the room.
What Type of Damage Property Fires can Cause
Fires spread more rapidly than you probably realize. In just 30 seconds, a small open flame can become an out-of-control fire. It only takes two minute for the fire to become life-threatening as smoke starts filling the interior. In five minutes, your entire house could be engulfed in flames.
Smoldering, burning and flashover can reduce many of your belonging to ashes. The heat and flames may cause a portion of the roof to collapse. A property fire is also likely to knock out the power or affect the plumbing, potentially resulting in sewer backups. Recovering from these situations safely requires the help of a professional fire restoration company.
Even items that aren’t touched by flames can sustain heavy smoke damage during a property fire. Oily soot lands on carpet, drapes and other textiles, permanently staining them. Smoky odors penetrate woven belongings, such as clothing, upholstery, drapes and more.
Smoke can damage your home, but it can also harm anyone inside the building during a fire. Inhaling poisonous gases from a fire can cause disorientation and drowsiness. It may seem that the last thing you’d want to do during a fire would be to fall asleep, but the smoky fumes have a strange effect. Because fire uses up oxygen and replaces it with strangling fumes, suffocation causes three times more deaths in property fires than burns.