Supercenter Smoke Damage



A 13 year old boy lit some clothing on fire in the men’s department in a 191,487 SF, 24 hour Supercenter store.  While the fire was put out quickly, the smoke damage & fire extinguisher residue affected an area 157’-8” long x 74’-6” wide x 17’ high. The cost of the restoration clean up totaled $92,381.50 but the losses in merchandise exceeded 1 Million dollars. The work was performed during all hours of the day & night and was completed in only 2 days while keeping the store open and minimizing disruption to the customers and staff.


Challenges/Creative Solutions


After a long wait with our crew for the scene to be released from the Fire, Police & Sherriff Departments as well as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, we received the ok to proceed.  Conflicting opinions between the store’s Corporate Contact who as offsite across the country and the on-site Store Manager regarding the amount of work needed, required us to employ our highest degree of diplomacy. This tension was intensified by the immediate response required and everyone’s mutual desire to keep the store open for business while completing the work in the shortest amount of time possible. Corporate’s position was that they would not risk having any negative consequences from not providing a clean environment for their shoppers or from selling an item that wasn’t 100% up to their standards. The Store Manager’s primary concerns were minimizing the financial impact and disruption to the store and its customers. Adding to the complexity was that our work which was performed around the clock required constant communication, discussion, direction & decisions requiring interaction from various shift Managers all the while maintaining compliance with the direction of our Corporate Contact & Main Store Manager who were not always available to us.

We established a 75’ x 60’ x 17’ containment in the middle of the store, utilizing black, heavy mil visqueen as a barrier to help hide our restoration services and provide some measure of security.  We hired 2 security companies to ensure security and strategically stationed between 4 & 6 Security Officers who were on patrol during the entire process.  Moving out over 1 Million dollars of merchandise to be sold to salvors and moving in over 1 Million dollars of replacement merchandise at the loading docks in the back of the store created quite a risk during the chaos of an emergency restoration job while maintaining operations with customers shopping. This was performed under the close scrutiny of the companies Risk Management team. Before the merchandise could be moved, we had to coordinate a damage inventory utilizing the stores outside service who was already in the middle of a storewide general inventory. All the merchandise in a 60’ x 58’-8” area adjacent to the containment was immediately covered with heavy mil visqueen prior to the inventory being performed.

Five HEPA negative air machines in conjunction with special odor removal filters were used inside the containment to scrub the air, remove odors and control dust from the restoration process prior to deodorization.

We had to secure permission from Corporate to shut down 2 HVAC systems prior to cleaning the units as well as the corresponding 80’ of 24”+ ductwork.

We brought in 20 pallet jacks to move 100 pallet boxes of salvage merchandise on pallets into 3 tractor trailers.  We also brought in a forklift to aid in stacking the pallets/boxes efficiently in the trailers.

We also brought in 8 motorized scissor lifts and 6 sections of scaffolding to assist in the structure cleaning from the open web trusses down to the floor including all the racking in the Men’s, Crafts and partially in the Shoe Departments. We had to leverage our relationship with our cleaning supplier in order to get them to immediately deliver the large order of supplies after hours.




No complaints were received as a result of bringing in all of the tools, equipment, supplies, & personnel nor from the removal & replacement of merchandise. No theft or missing merchandise was reported and the store was never closed at all during the operations. We were able to satisfy the differing concerns of both Corporate and the Store Manager without causing delays or ill feelings and in fact both were very complimentary regarding the work we performed for them. The affected areas and departments were fully restored and no visible evidence of this unfortunate loss exists.

© 2020 Kowalski Construction, Inc.  |  Tel: 602-944-2645  |  Fax: 602-944-6844

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