Fire Damaged House? Here’s What to Do.

Selling a home can be a complex and stressful process under the best of circumstances, but when a house fire has occurred, the process can be even more challenging. Not only do homeowners need to deal with the emotional and financial impact of the fire, but they also need to consider the practicalities of repairing and restoring a fire damaged house, as well as preparing the house for sale.

If you are in the process of selling a home after a house fire, you may be wondering what steps you need to take to get your home ready for the market. Whether you are a homeowner looking to sell your home after a fire or simply want to be better prepared for the future, this article is a valuable resource for understanding the steps involved in selling a home after a house fire.

red brick fire damaged house

What do you do with a Fire Damaged House?

How fast can house fires spread?

The speed of a fire depends on a few factors, from the size and layout of your house, to the fuel the fire has, the amount of oxygen it gets and more. A short answer is that fires can spread very fast. Sometimes it only needs a minute, or less to cause significant damage to your home.

Longer answer, it depends. Fires can (and usually do) spread very quickly in a house, especially if they are fueled by easily combustible materials such as paper, cloth, or wood. The presence of flammable liquids (such as gasoline or cleaning solvents) can also significantly increase the speed at which a fire spreads. Fires can also spread more quickly in a house if there are open windows or doors, as this can provide a source of oxygen that can fuel the fire.

The layout of the house can also impact the speed at which a fire spreads. For example, a fire that starts in a room with an open floor plan may spread more quickly than a fire that starts in a room with walls and doors that can block the fire’s progress.

What to do immediately after a house fire

A house fire is an event which most homeowners are not prepared for, both emotionally and financially. If you are unsure what the first steps to take after finding yourself a victim of a house fire then start with this simple checklist to ensure your safety moving forward:

  • Get permission from the fire department before re-entering your home.
  • Call your homeowners insurance to begin the claims process
  • Contact your utilities providers and possibly request emergency shutoff service.
  • When you are able to go into your home again & document all the property damage in notes and pictures.
  • Get an official report from the fire department for your insurance company.
  • Open all the windows to help clear smoke from the rooms and reduce smoke damage.
  • Empty the fridge and freezer since your power could be temporarily shutoff.
  • Hire a fire restoration specialist to provide an estimate on costs for cleanup and repair

Dealing with health risks from a fire damaged house

A house fire also can create some potential health risks that may need to be addressed, including carbon monoxide posioning, respiratory problems from the smoke, psychological effects from a potentially traumatic experience, burns or more. It is important to take steps to protect yourself and your family from these health risks if you are in or around a house fire.

In the aftermath of a fire, it is also important to pay attention to your physical and mental health and to seek help if you are experiencing any negative effects.

How quickly can you move back into a fire damaged house?

After a fire, it is important to have the house inspected by a qualified professional to assess the damage and determine the necessary repairs. This may include repairing or replacing structural elements, electrical and plumbing systems, and other damaged areas of the house. It is also important to have the house professionally cleaned and deodorized to remove any soot or other residue from the fire.

The length of time it takes to complete these repairs and make the house safe to inhabit will depend on the extent of the damage and the availability of materials and contractors. It is important to follow the recommendations of the inspecting professional and not to try to move back into the house until it has been deemed safe.

In the meantime, it may be necessary to find temporary housing, such as a hotel or rental property, until the house is safe to move back into.

House Fire Victim Assistance with No Insurance

house fire victim volunteer with bucket by a truck

Often the first line of help for house fire victim assistance, the Red Cross has a mission to provide helps during disasters, including single-family house fires.  The Red Cross is able to quickly take action to aid you whether you are in need of shelter or food and clothing. All across the United States the Red Cross responds to a home fire or other disaster every 8 minutes. They are prepared to help in unique situations too, even providing cleanup kits for smaller house fires that allow you to stay in your home.

When the fire department is notified of a house fire they will often reach out to the Red Cross on your behalf. You can also look up your local branch and call them yourselves to receive timely Red Cross house fire victim assistance.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Help

Unlike the Red Cross (a privately funded charity), the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is a part of the US government. To receive house fire victim assistance through FEMA you must have incurred the fire damage due to a tornado, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane.

If you have experienced a house fire, you may be eligible for assistance from FEMA, which can include:

Temporary housing:

If your home is uninhabitable due to fire damage, FEMA may provide temporary housing assistance to help you find a place to stay while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. This could include a hotel room, an RV, or other temporary living arrangements.


FEMA may provide grants to help you pay for necessary expenses related to the fire, such as temporary housing, repair or rebuilding costs, and replacing personal possessions.

Other assistance:

FEMA may also provide other types of assistance, such as crisis counseling, legal services, and help with funeral expenses.

To apply for assistance from FEMA, you will need to register online or by calling the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362. You will need to provide information about the fire and the damages it caused, as well as your contact information and insurance coverage. A FEMA representative will contact you to discuss your eligibility for assistance and provide information on how to apply.

It is important to note that FEMA assistance is generally intended to supplement, not replace, insurance coverage and other forms of aid. If you have insurance, you should contact your insurance company to report the fire and discuss your coverage. You should also explore other potential sources of assistance, such as charitable organizations and local agencies, to help you recover from the fire.

Fire Damage Insurance

In the event of a home fire you’ll always want to reach out to your insurance company. Many types of home insurance include reimbursement for property damage and losses sustained from the house fire. Depending on your policy your insurance may also help pay for damage to structures not attatched to the main home such as sheds, garages and fences.

Insurance companies are used to dealing with disasters such as this and can point you in the right direction when it comes to receiving aid and house fire victim assistance. It is important to note, however, that fire damage insurance policies typically have limits on the amount of coverage they provide, and some types of damage may not be covered. It is important to review your policy carefully to understand what is and is not covered.

If your fire damage has you considering selling your home, here are a some more tips to consider:

The Cost of Selling a House with Fire Damage

tan house with second story burned off

If you need to sell your home after it’s been damaged in a fire you can choose to either sell the house as is or make the necessary repairs first. While selling your house with its damage is a simpler solution for you as the seller, it could result in a much lower sale price for you. You’ll have to determine if the money and time you save on repairs is worth the loss of return on your home sale.

Just as you, the homeowner, find the thought of repair after a fire to be daunting or overwhelming, so too would the average house buyer. If you were to spend the time to repair your home before listing then you have the potential of getting a fair market price for your home without too much difficulty.

When to Sell a Fire-Damaged House As Is

Not all fires cause widespread destruction in a home. If your fire was small and only affected a small portion of the house then you have the potential to go ahead and sell the house as-is without as big of a financial loss.

If you are in a financial situation where paying for the home repairs yourself is prohibitive then listing the home with fire damage might be your only option. Another scenario where selling a fire-damaged house as is would be possible without a huge monetary loss would be if you received a large payout from home owners fire insurance. That payout combined with the sale of your home might make up the difference of any loss in sales price due to fire damage.

How to Sell a House With Fire Damage

Selling a fire damaged house is not a lot different than selling any house. Be up front about your fire damage with potential buyers. Make copies of the documents pertaining to the fire and be transparent with your agent and potential buyers about the extent of the fire damage. Make sure you detail the damage and any steps taken to repair the damage on the property disclosure statement as well. Some people think about selling their house with fire damage as-is. They simply collect the insurance money and sell the house at a discount.

If you decide to sell your home with damage, reaching out to a us. We are a non-traditional buyer and your top rated, local Utah house buying company! We will buy your house in any condition, saving you the fuss of making the home repairs yourself, while trusting you’ll get an honest and stress-free cash offer on your home.


I was a part owner in an electrical contracting firm in the late 1990’s and started to get interested in real estate around 2001. My business partner and I bought our first rental property in 2002. From there we did several real estate transactions until we decided to close the electrical business and part ways. In 2009 I started Gary Buys Houses which is owned by my wife, Eileen, and I. I felt like I could offer one on one personal service to people that wanted to sell their house quickly or not worry about repairs and such. Today, I have built a reputation of being fair and honest with people no matter their situation, so the business continues to help people and be successful. I have been married for 34 years, and have one son, two step sons and 4 grandchildren. I like to travel and spend time in Southern Utah exploring.

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