[GSBN] Fwd: [SB-r-us] Attic fire, in a straw bale duplex.
mfhammer at pacbell.net
Sun Nov 14 18:41:47 CST 2010
Hello Frank (and welcome to the GSBN),
Regarding the ³stinky-winky odours² (you¹ll fit in fine at the GSBN) the
responses have been about smoke odors, but I wonder if ³moisture odors²
(mustiness, mold) are part of the problem. That is, from moisture that got
into or onto materials (bales, wood framing, cellulose insulation, finishes)
during the extinguishing of the fire.
My only other thought re: smoke odors is that cigarette smoke (someone
else¹s, not mine) on clothing is usually dissipated easily by hanging the
clothing in outside air for a day. I don¹t know if a fresh air flush of the
house would eliminate the smoke odors, but I would try that first. Although
in your case the concentration and extent of the smoke might be way too much
for that to work. I also read where someone put ammonia in solution in a
bowl in a closed mobile home for a day to eliminate smoke odors. Just don¹t
inhabit the space while trying that.
On 11/10/10 9:17 PM, "Tim Owen-Kennedy" <timok33 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Frank et al.
> I have been involved in three bale structure fires and repairs which show no
> signs or smells long term. Also my neighbors house caught fire growing up and
> they repaired the walls and they never smelled it after. Including my own
> house which burned two weeks before we moved in. The sections of bale wall
> that were unaffected by the fire - used to put out the fire in fact - did
> smell of fire for weeks after. I would assume that any plaster that was
> exposed to the smoke absorbed some of it and would continue to smell over
> I would recommend, like the Skillful John, scraping off as much of the plaster
> as would easily come off and removing any bales that were exposed. I would
> also suggest that you switch to a lime plaster and limewash over the earth
> plaster on the interior as it is more likely to seal in any remaining odor,
> block future mold growth and be easier to reapply if there are issues down the
> road. I have had two clients paint or prime over our plastered walls later on.
> Though I think it was a bad idea nothing seems to have gone horrible wrong,
> yet. This technique might be able to be used in small areas, if they persist
> years down the road - J Straube or others could weigh in with a more
> scientific assessment of the risks here.
> The Conventional house that burned they re sheetrocked and primed where there
> was no damage. and it seemed to have sealed in the odors completely. with the
> vapor permeability of the wall assembly I could imagine that the smell could
> last a while.
> On the other hand we once added essential oils to a fireplace plaster surround
> (at the owners insistance that it would last years) and it didn't seem to last
> more than a few months.
> Most of all I would ask the insurance company if they would give the clients a
> check for the full replacement and just do the repairs, that way they could
> take a several months tropical vacation while the repairs are being done and
> the house is being finished. This would go a long way towards warding off the
> onset of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
> for what it's worth,
> On Thu, Nov 4, 2010 at 6:21 AM, Mark Piepkorn <duckchow at potkettleblack.com>
>> Forwarded message. Please include Frank Tettemer in any replies.
>> -------- Original Message --------
>> From: Frank Tettemer <frank at livingsol.com> <mailto:frank at livingsol.com>
>> Hi All,
>> Three weeks before moving into their new straw bale home in downtown
>> Pembroke, Ontario, Canada, Suzanne and Rick have suffered a fire which
>> started in the cellulose in the attic of their house. The blame is
>> shared between the chimney installer, who only provided a one foot high
>> clearance collar in the attic, and the insulation company who pumped in
>> insulation to a depth of 23".
>> Trusses are damaged, the fire was put out, with plenty of water, in a
>> cathedral ceiling. This means that the water ran down the vapour
>> barrier, in the truss area, onto the plaster-capped bale walls, and ran
>> into the room in black, stinky rivulets, staining all the interior
>> plastering, (earthen with American Clay, fiber,manure, and sand.)
>> Exterior plaster of lime and sand appears untouched over 95% of the wall
>> The building structure is post and beam, located within the inside of
>> the plaster and bale wall sections, and is unharmed, structurally. Only
>> two small areas have exposed bales, and that was as a result of the
>> firemen chopping into the walls at points that they suspected may have
>> caught fire. All in all, the plaster/bale walls are unburnt.
>> Clearly, from a structural point of view, the trusses could be removed
>> next spring, the mess cleaned out, and structurally damaged bales (very
>> few) could be replaced and replastered.
>> The insurance folks, and the forensic engineer with whom I have spoken
>> today, both agree that the main issue is not structural, but is the
>> smell, and it's feared ghost-like re-appearance, for years down the
>> road. Their take on it is to bulldoze everything, preserving the
>> foundation, and start again, to avoid the stinky-winky odours.
>> I'm not totally convinced that the smell has penetrated all the walls.
>> But I have no way of telling, at present.
>> Is there such a thing as a "smell detector"?
>> Does anyone have contact info for other bale home owners who have
>> experienced a fire restoration?
>> I would greatly like to hear all stories connected to restoration after
>> a fire, both successful and unsuccessful, as all info is useful in
>> trying to evaluate the current situation.
>> Any fire victims out there? And does it still stink?
>> Frank Tettemer
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