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Residential Structure Fire


The Cape Coral Fire Department extends our deepest sympathy because of your loss and resulting hardships. The information contained in this page is designed to help you with recovery from your fire incident. If you have any other questions that are not addressed in this page, please do not hesitate to contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at (239) 242-3264.

Fire Reports

Fire reports are available after the building is released by the fire department and the investigation into the cause is complete, usually three to five business days. To request a report, please contact the City Clerk's Office.

Immediately After the Fire

If there is sufficient damage to your home or the electric meter has been pulled, the Building Department will be notified in order to inspect the property as well. If the structure is deemed unstable, you will not be allowed to enter until the dangers are mitigated. If it is unsafe to stay in your home, the fire department representative will assist you in obtaining temporary shelter, if available, through the Red Cross. Your homeowner’s insurance may also provide you with temporary housing, clothing, food and other items related to fire loss. Keep track of your receipts; they can be proof for reimbursement and may be used as a tax deduction.


It is the responsibility of the owner/occupant to notify the insurance company. If you rent the residence, you need to contact the property owner as soon as possible. They will, in turn, need to contact their insurance company. Remember that the landlord’s insurance only covers their property. The tenant's belongings are not insured through the landlord’s policy. If you rent, we recommend that you carry renter’s insurance. If you do have renters insurance, you will need to contact your representative as soon as possible. If your vehicle is damaged, you will also need to contact your auto insurance.

Before leaving the scene, the fire department will secure the residence as best it can with the resources available. After the fire department releases the structure/scene, the matter of security becomes the responsibility of the owner and the occupant. It is recommended that you place tarps or plastic sheeting over openings. If there is a need for security, contact your insurance company to see if it can help. Professional fire and water damage restoration businesses are also a good resource. These are companies that specialize in cleaning and restoring your personal items. Listed below are a few of the local companies offering these services:







You can also check online for more options or ask your insurance company for recommendations. Make sure you know if you or your insurance will pay for the service. When you contact the company, be sure to ask for a cost estimate in writing.

If you have insurance, these organizations are good additional resources. If you don't have insurance, these organizations, in addition to your family and community, may be able to provide assistance with your recovery

  • American Red Cross

(239) 278-3401 (If after hours, follow the instructions provided on voicemail)

7051 Cypress Trail #110, Fort Myers, FL 33907

Assistance with food, clothing, and shelter

  • Salvation Army

(239) 278-1551

10291 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33919

Assistance with clothing and some furniture

  • Lee County Human Services Department

(239) 278-1551

2440 Thompson St., Fort Myers, FL 33901

  • Religious organizations

  • Community groups

  • Nonprofit crisis-counseling centers

If you have pets, find and comfort them. Scared animals often react by biting or scratching. Handle them carefully. If they were inside at the time of the fire, take them to a veterinarian to have them checked out. Try to leave pets with a family member or friend while you are visiting or cleaning your damaged home. Keeping pets out of the house until the cleanup is complete will keep them safe. 

The First Days of Recovery


The utilities in your home may have been turned off to prevent injury to the firefighters and to prevent further damage to the structure. DO NOT turn on the water, gas, or electric power yourself Contact your utility companies for further instructions:

Often, a licensed plumber or electrician must make repairs before service can be restored. They will not reconnect the service until the Building Department has signed an authorization.

Please note: Proper building permits must be obtained before construction to the damaged structure can begin. 


Call your physician to obtain an emergency refill of medications. Medication in the home should not be consumed due to possible contamination from smoke, heat, chemicals, and toxic gases. 


Do not keep any food items that have been exposed to heat and smoke. Toxins from smoke may penetrate cardboard boxes and plastic wrapping. It is best to discard all food items in the home.​

Service Providers

Contact companies whose services you may need to temporarily suspend such as cable, internet, landline, lawn, pool, etc.

Replacing Money

Handle burnt money as little as possible. Try to place each bill or part of bill in plastic wrap to help preserve it. If money is half burnt or less, you can check with local commercial banks or take it to your regional Federal Reserve Bank to get it replaced. For more information about replacing damaged money visit and click on mutilated currency redemption. 

Replace valuable documents and records

  • Driver’s license

  • Auto registration

  • Titles and deeds

  • Insurance policies

  • Credit cards

  • Passports

  • Stocks and bonds

  • Social security or Medicare cards

  • Wills

  • Medical records

  • Warranties

  • Income tax records

  • Citizenship papers

  • Military discharge papers

  • Birth, death and marriage certificates

  • Divorce papers

Salvaging Items in the Home

Things not damaged by the fire may still be ruined and may be soggy with water used to put out the fire. Anything you want to save or reuse will need to be carefully cleaned. There are various solutions for cleaning walls, washing clothing, and removing odors. Always check the health and hazard precautions before using any chemicals or cleaning solutions. Test a small area first to be sure that the solution will not harm the item that you want to clean.​


Do not use any appliances that have been exposed to water or steam until they have been checked by a qualified service representative. This is especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can remove the lubricant from the moving parts of these appliances. To remove odors from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water or use a solution of 1 cup of vinegar or household ammonia to 1 gallon of water. You can also place an open container of baking soda or a piece of charcoal in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb the odor.

Cooking Utensils

Pots, pans, flatware, etc., should be washed with soapy water, rinsed, and then polished with a fine-powder cleaner. Copper and brass can be polished with special polish, salt sprinkled on a wedge of lemon, or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with  vinegar.


Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from clothing. The following formula will often work on clothing that can be bleached:

  • 4 – 6 teaspoons trisodium phosphate (available in paint stores)

  • 1 cup household chlorine bleach

  • 1 gallon warm water

Be sure to wear rubber gloves. Mix well in a bucket or sink, add clothing, rinse well with clean water, and dry thoroughly.


An effective way to remove mildew from clothing is to wash the fresh stain with soap and warm water, rinse thoroughly, and then dry in the sun. If the stain has not disappeared, use lemon juice and salt or a diluted solution of water and chlorine bleach.


Preserving damaged photographs is often very important to victims of fires, floods, and other disasters. If photographs are not burned, they can usually be saved.


Never try to peel apart photographs that have stuck together; let the photographs separate on their own. Soak the photos in clear, clean water and rinse carefully and thoroughly. Dry photos image side up on a smooth hard surface. If there are a large number of wet photos, wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them. Thaw and wash them, a few at a time. If the photos stay damp, they can be damaged by mold.

Leather and Books

Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth and then with a dry cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspaper to retain their shape. Suitcases should be left open. Steel wool or a suede brush can be used on suede. Leather and suede jackets can be rinsed in cold water. All leather goods should be dried away from heat and sun. After leather goods are dry, clean with saddle soap.

Books can be dried by placing them on end with  pages fanned open and separated. They should be piled and pressed to prevent the pages from wrinkling. Alternate drying and pressing techniques to prevent the books from mildewing until they are thoroughly dry. Cornstarch or talc can be sprinkled between the pages of very damp books. Leave for several hours, then brush off. A fan turned on the books will help them dry.

Rugs and Carpet

Throw rugs can be cleaned by beating, sweeping, or vacuuming and then shampooing. They should be dried as quickly as possible. Even though the surface of the rug may seem to be dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly cause a rug to rot. Lay the rugs flat and expose them to a circulation of warm, dry air. A fan blowing on the rugs will speed the drying process. For information on cleaning and preserving carpet, call a carpet dealer, installer, or carpet cleaning professional.

Walls, Floors, Ceilings, Furniture, and Cabinets

To remove soot and smoke from walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, and cabinets, use a mild soap or detergent or mix together the following solution:

  • 4 – 6 teaspoons trisodium phosphate (available in paint stores)

  • 1 cup household chlorine bleach

  • 1 gallon warm water

Be sure to wear rubber gloves. Wash with solution, rinse with clean warm water, and dry thoroughly. If the weather allows, open windows and use a fan to circulate air. Do not repaint until walls and ceilings are completely dry.

Wallpaper can also be cleaned and repaired. Use a commercial paste to re-adhere loose edges or sections. Contact a wallpaper dealer or installer for  information on wallpaper cleaners. Washable wallpaper can be cleansed like any ordinary wall, but care must be taken not to soak the paper.

Wood Furniture

Clear off mud and dirt. Scrub wood furniture or fixtures with a stiff brush and cleaning solution. If the piece has drawers, remove them and dry thoroughly so drawers will not stick when reinserted. Wet wood can decay and mold, so dry thoroughly. Do not dry wood furniture in the sun. It will warp and twist out of shape. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Turn on furnace or air conditioner, if necessary. If mold forms, wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in a mixture of borax dissolved in hot water.

To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with a cloth soaked  in a solution of ½ cup of household ammonia and ½ cup water. Wipe the surface dry and then polish with wax or a cloth soaked in a solution of ½ cup  turpentine and ½ cup linseed oil. Be careful – turpentine is combustible!  Remember, oily rags can start fires by spontaneous combustion. Put all used rags in an airtight metal container, like a paint can, and place outside, away  from your home for disposal.

Wood surfaces can also be cleaned with a fine grade steel wool pad dipped in liquid polishing wax, wiped clean with a soft cloth, and then buffed.

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