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What is the Difference Between a Protein Fire and Typical Fire?

4/18/2022 (Permalink)

inside house with men wearing PPE, pulling insulation down A protein fire caused the damage in this Riverside home. The smell permeated into the insulation. SERVPRO of West Riverside city was called to help!

You're cooking a ribeye on the stove, you get distracted and forget you have it cooking. 

Wait!  What's that smell?   You've burnt the rib eye that you left unattended in the pan!

Protein Fire occurs when the decomposition of animal fats from beef, poultry, fish among others produces a fine clear mist, which has a very obnoxious odor that is capable of penetrating even the smallest of areas.

Many homeowners may think a home fire is a home fire but there is a big difference between protein fires versus typical fires. Many homeowners underestimate the damage of a protein fire because they don’t see the “typical” black smoke residue commonly associated with home fires. A protein fire produces a fine mist that has a rancid strong odor that can also compromise structural materials and contents in the home. These protein residues can penetrate cabinets, drawers, air ducts, furniture and clothing. A quick fix cleanup will not adequately remove the mist and odors as the proper cleaning steps are required to remove this odor from the structure and contents. It takes extensive cleaning of walls, floors, ceiling and contents of the home to rid the home of this offensive odor.

 How Does the Fire Start?

It’s actually not the meat that catches fire but the grease. As the meat slowly cooks in the pan, the sides get coated with grease, which is what catches fire first. The burnt meat adds to the catalyst and that’s how the flame rises. Grease fire can quickly spread all over the stove if the knobs and other areas are covered with grease too. The soot slowly starts to cover the walls and floor which makes the tiles slippery and greasy.

When you enter the kitchen, the smoke smell goes through you and folds you in its odor. Your clothing smells like smoke, as well as your hair. The smoke smell permeates the house for days.

What Are the Signs of a Protein Fire?

The signs of protein fires may after burning food, but they also will build up over time.

  • Persistent meat or grease smells that become rancid over time
  • Sticky surfaces that are nearly impossible to clean
  • Yellowish to brown stains that form drip-like patterns
  • Brown or black soot stain that seems to appear after cooking

There may not be any noticeable damage, but there might be a foul odor that you just can’t seem to get rid of, no matter how many times you Febreeze! This odor permeates furniture and structures in your home even more so than other fires. Since protein fires usually occur in a small space of the kitchen, the odor can be pushed into floorboards, cracks in the wall — even electrical outlets! No wonder it’s such a frustrating and confusing mess.

To prevent a protein fire in your home, make sure that you don’t leave foods such as eggs, meat or beans on the stove when you are not home and make sure to keep these foods from burning or boiling over.

You Need Professional Assistance

Because of the way the residue penetrates into porous materials, standard cleaning job won’t do.  You need a thorough cleaning.  Only specialized cleaners will break up the residue and you need special cleaning techniques to get deep enough to scrub that smell away.  In some cases, even that may not be enough, so it’s necessary to apply a sealing agent.  You may also need to repaint tainted surfaces. The process is lengthy, taking several days and multiple cleanings to completely remove the scent.

Exercise Kitchen Safety

The best way to deal with a protein fire is to avoid having one in the first place.  For that, you just need to follow some basic kitchen safety rules.

Remember to set a timer whenever you cook something. It’s very easy to forget something in the oven, especially if you get distracted.  A timer with a loud alarm will save you from this mistake.

Restoration will use very specific techniques when restoring your home and belongings after a protein fire. Our technicians are professionally trained, with unique products and techniques. Using everyday household cleaners will not remove the residue. The products that we use and their application techniques are implemented in stages to ensure that everything in your home are thoroughly cleaned. This process will possibly take multiple days, but in the end, your home will be restored back to how it was. Fresh and no more rancid smell.

Contact SERVPRO of West Riverside City, we have the experience and knowledge to correctly restore your home!

Call us at 951-351-8033

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