Kitchen mistake turns into smelly health hazard

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Nancy Newman hopes her story will serve as a warning about accidents that turn into disasters. A simple mistake very quickly turned into a smoky, smelly health hazard.

A cooking mistake filled the Newman home with so much smoke the family had to move out for weeks while disaster relief companies removed everything. Their home is now empty - everything gone.

Two weeks ago, Nancy Newman made beef stew. She thought she turned the stove off and then left the house for four hours.

"I opened the door and it was full of white smoke. I thought it was on fire," Newman said.

Damage from burning protein is extremely hard to remove. Newman said that everything in their home was touched and ultimately ruined by the accident.

"Everything smells, everything stinks, down to my make-up brushes, which were on the top floor," she said. Everything got destroyed."

Technicians removed all of the contents for off-site cleaning and are now working on the structure itself. They use a number of techniques in order to get that smoke and smell out of the guts of a damaged house.

"We wipe things down. We use a procedure called ozoning, which helps get rid of odors," said technician Quinn Mead, who works for Service Master. "We also use a process called fogging - a thermal fog."

The only thing that prevented a outright fire is that the lid was on the heavy duty pot. But the smoke moved through vents, upstairs and into bedrooms. The family stayed for a couple of days, windows open, air fresheners everywhere, but the smoke was making them all sick.

"Our sinuses were burning; We'd wake up (and) throats were burning. We had nausea," Newman said. Service Master technicians told them that continuing to live in the house could be dangerous to their health, so they had no choice but to move out.

The Newmans have been living at a motel. Their personal items like clothing, bedding and even beloved stuffed animals have been sent to a cleaning company in order to get that awful stink and smoke out.

Fortunately, it wasn't all entirely bad news: Their insurance covers structure and content cleaning, which will help with the cost of the accident.


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