Wildfire Blazes Across 15 Freeway

A blaze around the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino, dubbed the “North Fire”, has joined the list of wildfires to ravage Southern California with fire damage this year. Over 4000 acres have burned and multiple properties have been lost to fire damage, but the firefighters reached 75% containment by the time this article was written. San Bernardino resident Esther Eblen shares her ordeal with the Press Enterprise on Sunday:  “I had to drive through flames to get out,” said Eblen, 65. “I thought I was going to die.” She thought she knew how quickly fire moved across the landscape, dotted with Joshua Trees and sage brush, after living on a remote dirt road for 21 years. With the fire appearing a few miles away, she said she was watering trees outside her house just down the road from her brother Friday afternoon to keep fire from spreading to the grass and reaching the house She turned around to check the fire and found it blazing to the top of a ravine across the road near her house. She grabbed her two dogs and jumped in the car while land around her burned. Flames and smoke pouring across the road disoriented her, briefly sending her off the roadway. Her house wasn’t touched by the fire. The fire burned her brother’s house “to the ground” and damaged a collection of antique cars, trucks, railroad cars and engines that sat on property just down El Centro Road, said Esther Eblen, who went there to close front gates following a neighbors’ report someone may have been there stealing. Luckily, Paul Eblen and his wife were on vacation in Arizona at the time. “He lost everything — 30 years’ worth of stuff,” she said Sunday. His collection of cars and trucks includes a Model A Ford and narrow-gage railroad cars and engines. At least some were decimated. “This moved so fast. If they’d have been here, they wouldn’t have been able to get out,” she said.

Hidden, Common Causes of Household Fire Damage

With summer in Southern California comes the media’s latest coverage of this year’s massive wildfire. In spite of the supposed prevalence of wildfires, the source that ultimately threatens your home might not come from the dry sagebrush in the hills. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, wildfires aren’t even among the top 3 sources of house fire damage. To single out the most likely sources of house fire damage, you must look inward and assess the threats that are lurking within your own walls. These are the NFPA’s most common house fire sources.

A family home after a house fire
A family home after a house fire

Arson

The #3 spot belongs to the category of “intentional” fires, or arson. Such fires are usually done with either destructive intent or the intent to collect on insurance money. Just in the days preceding this article, two separate major arson incidents occurred in the Los Angeles area: a church was set on fire in Echo Park and a major fire along a North Hollywood freeway. It’s far more frequent than we might realizing, earning its spot on the NFPA’s list.

Heating Equipment

Heaters, fireplaces, electric blankets, and other such items keep us warm in the winter, but that same source of heat can also set flammable objects aflame. It’s important to minimize contact of loose clothing, rugs, and other objects with heat sources in the house. The ease at which such loose items can catch fire on our sources of warmth puts Heating Equipment at the NFPA’s #2 spot.

Cooking Equipment

Coming in at the #1 spot is cooking equipment. Nearly half of all household fires originate from the kitchen and appliances in the kitchen, which makes sense given how prevalent heat sources are inthere: stoves, ovens, even toasters. Kitchen based fires are also the leading cause of fire-based injuries.

Don’t act shocked, toaster. We’re onto you!
Don’t act shocked, toaster. We’re onto you!

Just like with heat sources, it’s important to make sure that loose objects such as kitchen towels or curtains aren’t too close to stovetops, toasters, and other heat sources. Additionally, minimize the amount of time you leave operating heat sources unattended. If you must leave to do something else while something cooks, ensure that the heat source is on an automatic shutoff timer to prevent overcooking of food and additional fire risk.

Not-So-Wild Fire

While wildfires are often considered the most newsworthy to Southern Californians, the sources they should be concerned the most about are inside their own homes. Now that you have this knowledge, however, you can prepare yourself and your household by looking around your house for areas of risk. There isn’t much you can do about arson besides having a fire extinguisher handy, but the #2 and #1 causes of household fires are easily preventable by being cautious with how we use our heating and cooking equipment.

What Corona Residents Should Know About Contents Restoration

Imagine,if you will, that the worst has happened and disaster has descended upon your home. Fortunately, you’re a homeowner with insuranceagainst the type of disaster that occurred. After observing the damage, your insurance company calls in a restoration company to begin renovation on your damaged property. A contractor may rebuild the home itself, but what happens to your damaged possessions inside? “Contents restoration” refers to the process of moving, restoring and replacing the damaged possessions inside your home. This is how it’s done.

Taking Inventory

The first and most obvious step is to take out all of the possessions to be restored from the premises. These items are then inventoried and secured safely off-site, where they are assessed for damage and service.

To Replace or Repair

The restoration company only has a certain amount of resources at their disposal, so they must pick their battles and decide what can be restored and what should be tossed. Some cheaper items, such as a plastic patio side-table, might be more cheaply and easily replaced than more substantial items. Whereas your grandma’s antique mahogany armoire might be something that might be less easily replaced.

To Refinish and Restore

After your possessions are assessed, the real work begins. Objects are cleansed of odors and stains, whether they came from smoke, fire, mold, or water. Wooden furniture pieces are then refinished, and fabric furniture pieces are sometimes reupholstered. Specific techniques might be used for artwork, electronics, or other specialty possessions.

To Have and to Hold

The restoration of your personal possessions is usually complete before the home repairs are. In that case, the contents restoration service will take the restored items back into their storage facilities and keep them there until home repairs are complete.

The Return Journey

Once construction is complete and the home is livable again, the restoration team goes to work removing all the restored items from storage and putting them back into the house. Your possessions are set up for you and your family to move back in.

Content with Restoration

Contents restoration is, simply put, the restoration of the contents of your home. If disaster occurs, and your home is damaged, team up with your insurance company to find the contractor and content restoration service that serves the Corona area and is right for you. Many restoration services, such as Superior Restoration, are capable of providing both services to clients affected by disaster. Regardless of what course of action you take, content restoration service helps get your life back to normal.

Unlicensed Contractors Gone Wild: The Two Most Common Risks

 

California residents have been warned this year, last year, and will be warned again: not working with a licensed contractor is simply a bad move. Whether it’s a cosmetic renovation or major restoration after a disaster, your state’s Licensing Board is there to ensure that the licensed contractor conducting the repairs is held accountable for their business practices and craftsmanship. Without this guarantee in place, homeowners are often left to the mercy of shady contractors that often have less-than-scrupulous business practices, leaving the client exposed in a variety of ways. Here are two of the most common risks associated with not using licensed contractors.

Take the Money and Run

By law, the down payment given to a contractor must not exceed 10% or $1,000, whichever is less. Some unlicensed contractors, seeking to make a quick buck, might try and charge an excessive down payment. Once they have the money, work might slow to a slog in cease entirely. Such was the case in a prominent scenario covered by the New York Times, where an unscrupulous, unlicensed contractor charged a down payment of 50% and then never showed up to do the contracted work. With no license, holding such contractors accountable is extremely difficult. The family in the New York Times story never got their money back, and had to pay a different contractor to start the job.

An Unassuring Lack of Insurance

By law, licensed contractors in California are expected to cover injuries of their employees and be bonded in case of unfinished work.  Some contractors don’t pursue licensing because they don’t want to pay for such insurance, but that decision ultimately hurts the consumer. In multiple cases in California legal history, it has been ruled that the homeowner is responsible for medical expenses if an unlicensed, uninsured contractor or a member of the work crew is injured over the course of a job. This means that you could be on the dole for tens of thousands of dollars or more if someone in the unlicensed contracting crew is injured while working on your project. Such a financial risk is not something you want to take.

Worth the Risk?

When money is tight, the cost of hiring a fully licensed and insured contractor can be daunting when compared side-by-side with the quoted cost of an uninsured, fly-by-night operation. However, when you compare those costs with the hefty financial risks that come with unlicensed contractor work, the possibility of being outright robbed or picking up the tab for outrageous medical expenses, it’s important to ask yourself a single question:  Is it really worth it?

Water damage prevention: pipes that burst after freezing temperatures

Many of us learned as far back as grade school that when water freezes it turns to ice and expands. Yet so many continue to neglect plumbing lines in the home by not thinking about a simple scientific principle we first learned as children. What many fail to realize is that plumbing lines located within uninsulated walls or under the property where heating systems don’t reach are at risk. When temperature plummets below freezing, water in the pipes will freeze…and expand.

Water pipes are not made of rubber. They are typically made of metal or plastic and aren’t designed to be flexible. When water contained in pipes freeze, the pressure inside is similar to inflating a balloon or tire with too much air. Naturally, the object can’t continue taking more pressure and bursts.

Even before a weather or news alert informs us about oncoming freezing temperatures, there are measures that should be taken to begin prevention of damage to water pipes. The first is to check all areas of the property where lines will be exposed to severe cold. This includes the basement, attic, garage, and crawlspace. All water lines should be wrapped in insulation. Also, if possible, block any openings in the area where cold air can enter.

When extreme drops in temperature is approaching, start by maintaining a warm temperature throughout the home. Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors under the sinks to allow the warm air in where water lines are exposed. Also, place portable heaters in areas containing pipes where the home’s heating system cannot reach. Don’t worry about the higher cost of heating, because you will end up saving a substantially larger amount by avoiding water damage in your home if a pipe bursts.

Lastly, be sure to run a slow drip from all faucets and shower heads. Water moving through the pipes, even at a very slow rate, will help prevent freezing.