If you are evacuated, you’ll be anxious to return home, but only do so when officials say it’s safe. They may identify a specific route or routes. Follow all directions and avoid taking shortcuts.
Your home and its surroundings may not look like they did before you left. As you arrive, it’s important to obey all signage and understand Damage Assessment Placards. Damage Assessment Placards are notices that the local government places on buildings within the damaged area. They tell you whether a structure is suitable for re-entry, if access is restricted or if it is unsafe to enter. Visit BC Housing for more information on placards.
If you can only enter your home once, remove your valuables and take steps to secure your property.
If you’re safely able to return for longer
Take pictures, keep track of your expenses and the time you spend cleaning up and make sure you keep your receipts.
Water-soluble fire retardants are commonly used in fire suppression. Retardant is typically coloured red with an iron oxide (rust) mixture to increase its visibility for air crews and ground personnel.
If retardant lands on houses or cars it can easily be washed off with water. If the retardant is dry, removal may require some scrubbing with water or power washing and a mild detergent.
Tip: Wildfire activity may increase the likelihood for natural landslides and flooding. Learn about warning signs in the Landslide and Flooding Risks brochure (PDF, 1.23MB) and companion sign (PDF, 3.3MB).
Be sure to photograph food that you discard, it may be required for insurance purposes. Contact your insurance provider for specific requirements. Follow your current local guidelines on where to discard food waste.
Do not drink, prepare food, or wash with tap water until officials say the water source is safe. Use bottled water, or boil or disinfect tap water with tablets (or chlorine bleach for non-drinking needs). If you are on a well or cistern that has been damaged, assume the water is not safe to drink. Contact your local authority for instructions.
Discard food that is spoiled, as well as food that has been stored in a refrigerator that has lost power, even if the power has been restored. When in doubt, throw it out.
Discard food that’s thawed. If your freezer has been exposed to fire, or has been without power for more than three days, throw out the contents.
Discard food and items exposed to heat, ash, chemicals, soot, water and smoke including
Your insurance policy may cover house cleaning by a fire restoration specialist. If you are going to clean your residence yourself:
Before beginning repairs on your home, consider the following
If you live in a First Nations community, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) may be able to help.
Call your insurance representative or company. Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard. Keep all receipts related to clean up and living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you may be entitled to and for how long.
If you do not know the name of your insurer or your insurance representative, contact Insurance Bureau of Canada’s Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-227-5422.
For more information on insurance claims, additional supports, restoration and cleaning, learn what to do after a fire (PDF).