Case Study

Clement House Fire, New Market, Iowa.



Brian Clement (right) with ARS’s Ryan Miller.

Project summary
  • House fire — The result of an overheated extension cord.
  • Precious items — Antique dining room buffet, photo albums, other items.
  • Solutions — Total house reconstruction. Ozone machine and hand cleaning to salvage items.

Bowling balls, photo albums and dining room buffets might be everyday items we don’t think much about. But when faced with loss from a fire, they become some of our most prized possessions.

On Monday, October 11, 2010, fire tore through the New Market, Iowa, home of Brian and Lori Clement. Among the items affected were Brian’s bowling balls, Lori’s precious photos and the couple’s antique buffet.

The Fire

The source of the Clement home fire was electrical. Both a computer and a heating pad were plugged into an extension cord, which the fire marshal later determined had overheated.

Kitchen in the Clement homeExtension cords are notorious for causing house fires. “It’s like having a loaded gun that can go off at any time,” said Brian Clement on reflection.

On Monday, Brian went to work. Afterward, he went to his bowling league. Lori first heard about the fire on the police scanner. Brian heard the news at the bowling alley.

Smoke and fire damaged Clement dining roomThe fire began about 5:15 p.m. in the master bedroom. When firefighters arrived, flames were beginning to engulf the kitchen, which was right next to the master bedroom, and smoke had filled the entire house.

The Loss

Initially, the Clements felt they had lost everything. Brian had a collection of football trading cards stored, and he also collected books on military history. Unfortunately, the trading cards and the history books were thoroughly ruined, as the heat from the fire was just too great.

Clement refrigerator damaged by fire and smokeBut some items were only covered in soot. The Clements’ 80-year-old dining room buffet, an heirloom handed down by grandparents, suffered water and smoke damage, but it was not beyond repair.

In addition, the Clement’s home was structurally sound and could be reconstructed. During the reconstruction, Brian and Lori temporarily moved in with family members who lived nearby.

Fire damaged wall requiring reconstruction

The Work

Brian’s insurance agent asked if he had a preference on which restoration company would do the repair. Nine years earlier, a baseboard heater started a small fire in the Clement’s home. The restoration company chosen to do the work at that time, however, performed poorly in Brian’s view. This time around, he and Lori decided to hire Advanced Restoration Services.

“Advanced Restoration Services called a lot. They’d say, ‘Do you want this? Do you want that?,’” remembers Brian. “I’d ask for plain replacement windows, and they’d say, ‘You just want plain windows?’ They made sure we got what we wanted.”

The repair work was extensive. “We gutted the entire house, replaced all the electrical and ‘thermo fogged’ everywhere,” says Ryan Miller, Advanced Restoration Services’ sales and marketing manager. “In our shop, we ‘ozoned’ many of the Clement’s possessions.”


 Thermo fogging

Thermo fogging uses a special solvent-based deodorizer, which is heated and applied as a dry fog. The thermo fogging process is easier, safer and more effective than water-based products for deodorizing smoke-damaged objects.

Ozone Cleaning
Taking advantage of a naturally occurring gas, Advanced Restoration Services’ ozone generators break down embedded odors and remove them, especially in porous materials such as fabric and upholstery.


 

Clement bathroom after the fireAdvanced Restoration Services used some subcontractors for specialty work. Phil Robbins Construction, for example, handled the electrical repairs. Phil installed a new service panel and rewired the entire home. It turned out that some of the wiring replaced was speaker wire, which a former owner had used to wire the bathroom light fixture. While the speaker wire did not cause the Clement’s home fire, it was a hazard. Phil replaced it with proper gauge electrical wire.

Clement home's reconstructed bathroom

The Result

“All I can say is there’s just no comparison to the work ARS does,” Brian says. “You can’t find one seam or uneven surface in the drywall finish in our home.”

The Clements moved back home on March 4, 2011, less than 5 months after the fire. It was a short period of time considering the extent of the reconstruction work.

The Clement's reconstructed kitchen“This was a stressful period for us, but the crews were very neat,” Brian says. “It all just fell boom-boom right into place, and I never felt out of the loop.”

In the end, the Clements’ 80-year-old buffet was fully restored and sits proudly in the dining room. Most of the Clement’s photo albums were restored, too. And Brian’s bowling balls? The 191-average bowler is happy. Of all the bowling balls in the home that night, only one was lost to the flames.

The Clement’s damaged antique buffet and later restored.

The Clement's new living and restored buffet

Advanced Benefits
  • Specialty work — We provide emergency board-up service to help stabilize structures and prevent further damage by weather and intruders.
  • Quick turnaround — We can minimize the time you are away from your home.
  • Rest assured — We are an IICRC Certified Firm, trained to abide by a superior standard of care.
  • Soda-blasting equipment — Uses sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) as a natural deodorizer to remove light chars and stains.
  • Ozone generators — Ozone, a naturally occurring gas, breaks down embedded odors, especially in porous materials.