Books, Documents and Smoke Damage

The fire is out and the smoke has cleared. Time to assess the damage to your important papers and books. It’s worse than you thought and you don’t know where to begin. You need to contact RestorePro at 800-847-0114.

There are three basic types of smoke created in a fire and they depend on what types of materials were burnt. The three types of smoke are wet smoke, dry smoke, and oily smoke. Wet smoke is usually the product of a slow, low-heat fire. It leaves a sticky residue. Dry smoke is associated with a high-temperature fire that burns fast. This type of smoke is tough on older books and papers. The third type is oily smoke. This smoke is common when furnaces “puff back” or when a flammable liquid is consumed.

Smoke, by nature is attracted to cooler surfaces. If you have ever opened an operating refrigerator or freezer that has been near a fire, you will see that the inside is covered with smoke residue. That is because in nature, hot moves toward cold so hot smoke squeezes past the rubber seals and into the cooler surfaces inside refrigerators and freezers.

So smoke will disperse towards cooler areas and articles away from the fire source. Books and documents qualify as cooler surfaces and smoke residue will settle on them. In just touching your books and papers you can inadvertently smear ash and smoke residue into the surfaces, possibly damaging these items beyond repair

You should always contact a reputable document restoration company after a fire. RestorePro is the best choice you could make. Our fire restoration technicians are trained and certified in fire restoration techniques and concepts by the IICRC, the non-profit international certifying body for the restoration industry (

Books and papers are generally damaged because smoke residue settles on them. Because of the where they lay or are stacked, their surfaces get covered, soot collects on the edges of books arranged on bookshelves. Dry smoke seems to do the most damage to these items.

One of the worse things you can do is to attempt to “dust” your books and documents by wiping them off with a towel or rag. Use care in handling them. It is possible for you to inadvertently “smear” the ash residue into the surfaces making it much more difficult to restore. It is best to just leave them alone and call RestorePro at 800-847-0114. Our certified fire restoration teams have the correct equipment and know the proper techniques to help you recover and restore smoke damaged books and documents.