Once the fire is out it may be safe to return to your home but the destruction left behind, even from a small fire, will linger unless you hire professionals to take care of it. While the principles behind fire restoration are fairly simple, it requires a lot of experience and manpower to get it done right, and this means that it should not be tempted to hire a regular homeowner or do this on your own.
Ash and smoke left behind from a fire can cause corrosion, discoloration, and bad odor if it is allowed to linger. Professionals that clean fire and smoke damage can stop this before it becomes a major problem, assuming they are contacted soon enough. There are many companies out there that advertise their ability to restore areas affected by fire, but only those with the proper training and certification should be considered.
Smoke damage should be addresses as soon as possible. If it is left too long, total restoration might become impossible. The first thing that ash does to the home is discolor most surfaces. Anything that is made of plastic or was close to the fire will start discoloring within minutes, to several hours. For example, fiberglass and finishes on appliances will begin to yellow. Metals may also tarnish. After a few days the ash will cause walls to discolor permanently, along with clothing and upholstery.
As time passes the cost of the restoration will increase. After just a few weeks the cost to clean and restore your home could become too high to afford. Metals may need to be replaced, carpet will permanently discolor and glass may be severely etched, which will necessitate replacement. It will also become apparent that the odors caused by the smoke may still be present and intense enough to be distracting. Because ash is acidic, the longer it takes to hire experts, the more destruction it will cause.
You may need to hire several types of professionals for different things affected by the fire. For instance, your carpets and upholstery can be better handled by cleaning professionals while a contractor might be a better choice to restore structural damage. The only way to properly clean smoke and fire damage is to be extremely thorough. Ash residue is easily disturbed and can spread through the building with ease, causing nearly everything to need restoration. The right experts will identify what can and cannot be salvaged, and will remove any built-up ash residue that is coating surfaces.
This entire process is very detailed, and hiring a professional that can be trusted to do the job right is an absolute necessity.