Fire Restorations Help Put Pieces Back Together

Any business owner would startle awake to a late-night phone call bringing news of sudden flooding or fire damage to his or her their venture. At about 5 a.m. on Feb. 21, the Best Western Inn of the Ozarks in Eureka Springs lost a 15,000-SF convention center to fire. No injuries were reported, but the incident raised disaster consciousness in Northwest Arkansas.

If prepared, an owner can assess the situation and react appropriately, said Joe Diederich, an insurance agent with Cleavenger & Breen Insurance in Fayetteville. Assuming the fire department knows about the blaze, the owner should first call his insurance company, he said.

For smaller incidents, the insurance call manages the problem. When a small storage shed burned down last year at Inn at the Mill in Fayetteville, the insurance agent tended to everything, said Patty Smith, office manager for Lambeth Inc.

Larger fires require more involvement. When the flames are extinguished, the insurance agent will first call a fire restoration company to secure the site, said Jeff Davis, owner of Northwest Restoration in Springdale. Protecting curious onlookers from injury and potential looters from temptation, Davis temporarily repairs damage done to the building by a partial fire.

If possible, restoration companies also salvage and refurbish items from within the building. Clothing and merchandise from a partially burned building can usually be heat-cleaned and deodorized, but salvage shops often offer to purchase and restore the items themselves.

Davis recommended owners call their mortgage company soon after the disaster occurs. Losses appraised for more than a certain amount — usually $5,000-$7,500 — often require insurance checks to go to the lien holder rather than the business owner.

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