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El Dorado County Residents Receive Letters Warning About Smoke And Ash Damage From Wildfire

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) — Alarming letters about wildfire damage are filling mailboxes in El Dorado County. They're from attorneys claiming smoke and ash could be deteriorating homes.

Many neighbors who received letters live miles away from any burn areas; should they have legitimate cause for concern?

Mary Stamschror said she just finished cleaning her home in Placerville after weeks of smoke and ash trickled down from the Caldor Fire. And now she's getting letters warning that mess could mean long-term damage

"Possible soot, smoke, ash damage because my home is in a contaminated area," she said.

She showed CBS13 a letter from an attorney in Glendale warns of hidden damage that can't be seen. It suggests potential legal action and possible settlements.

"I'm reading this and I'm going, all they are trying to do is build fear in me," Stamschror said.

Neighbors all over the Placerville area are getting them.

"I'm like, dear god. They are seriously already swarming in," said Kim Robinson

Letters in the mail and ads on Facebook have many in El Dorado County wondering how severe smoke damage can really get, especially when their homes were miles away from the fire.

Experts said the damage is definitely possible but nothing to panic over.

Colorado State University Structural Engineer Professor Hussam Mahmoud studies the impact that smoke and ash from wildfires have on buildings.

"One of the most potential damages is that you would have this ash that would fly in the air and then it would land on the roofs," Dr. Mahmoud said.

He said smoke and ash create the potential for structural issues like damaged roof shingles, but bigger impacts are mostly cosmetic.

"It can act like an acid in some cases and eat up some of the material. And even if that doesn't happen at a large level, just the fact that these small tiny openings in your walls would have these small little particles that's something that would go inside, that could leave that smell in your house for months," he said.

Many living near the Caldor Fire burn area said their concerns are limited.

"My home is standing. We've changed the filters. I'm not overly worried," Robinson said.

Experts say if you live in an area where you saw lots of smoke from a wildfire, it's a good idea to get your roof checked for any structural damage you might not be able to see.

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