The Woolsey fire ignited on November 8th, 2018. Home and commercial property owners in Los Angeles and Ventura counties have been through wildfires before. However, the Woolsey fire was particularly destructive. Over 96,000 acres of land burned. The fire destroyed 1643 structures and temporarily forced 295,000 homeowners out of their homes. At least 3 lives were lost. Many more were forever changed.

Now that the fire has been 100% contained, the homeowners who lost their homes now have to contemplate starting anew. Rebuilding a home destroyed by fire is no small feat. The road to recovery is long and involved. Here are 3 things to do after a wildfire damages or destroys your home.

Call the Insurance Company

Local insurance agents and their claims teams are working overtime to answer the myriad of questions regarding what’s covered and what isn’t. The good news is as long as you’ve been paying your premium, a standard homeowner’s insurance policy will cover fire damage to your dwelling, other structures on your property, and most of your belongings.

It’s imperative that you set the claims process in motion as quickly impossible. This is where the rebuilding begins. Even if it’s a total loss, you need a claims adjuster onsite as soon as possible. This adjuster may even recommend a local Los Angeles or Ventura fire restoration contractor to you to initiate the rebuilding process.

Make sure to also talk to your agent about documentation you’ll need to present to be reimbursed for post-fire living expenses or immediate repairs.

Anyone residing in a brushy area that’s repeatedly swept by wildfires needs to be prepared. Take regular inventory of your belongings. Take video of personal property. All of this helps speed up the claims process in the event of structural damage from Southern California wildfires or mudslides.

Assess Your Home’s Structural Damage

First, make sure your home is safe to assess. Check with fire officials before even attempting to return your home. Use extreme caution if you choose to re-enter a burned area. It’s actually best if you allow a professional fire restoration contractor to do the first structural walk through.

They’ll likely link you to a structural engineer who will identify the damage and outline necessary repairs for the foundation and basement walls, interior load bearing walls, basement, second floor, and attic floor joists.

Your fire damage restoration contractor can also put you in contact with licensed tradesmen like carpenters and electricians who specialize in restoring or rebuilding fire-damaged homes.

Assess If You Really Want to Rebuild in Brush-Covered Area

After each Southern California wildfire, cities and communities rebuild. Celebrities like Will Smith and Miley Cyrus have rebuilt even more spectacularly than their original homes.

Some homeowners may understandably opt to break the burn-rebuild-burn-again cycle by relocating. They’ll look to rebuild where there’s no national forest in their backyard. However, if you’d like to stay put, and this means rebuilding in a spot repeatedly ravaged by fire, talk to your builder about fire-resistant materials and adherence to building codes and code revisions.


H.W. Holmes, Inc. are fire restoration contractors in the Ventura/Los Angeles area. You can count on us to successfully rebuild your home or commercial property. We understand that having to restore or rebuild a fire-damaged structure is a challenging time for property owners . When you work with us, you are not alone. We are empathetic and committed to getting you and your family back in the home you call your own. Contact us today at (805) 383-9929.