Law firm warns of ash health concerns in Palm Springs

POSTED: 05:24 PM PDT Jul 25, 2013 
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

The Mountain Fire is nearly contained and while many home owners in the burn area clean up, a Los Angeles law firm says homeowners in Palm Springs should do the same, but not without calling them first.  This has raised a lot of questions about your health and the safety of your home after this fire. 

On almost every door knob, on every house in this Palm Springs neighborhood a sign reads "Do not clean until your home is inspected by an insurance company."  It's talking about the left over ash from the Mountain Fire that blanketed many Palm Springs neighborhoods. 

"If they have been contaminated by all of this soot and ashes they can make a claim against your insurance company to clean your house," said Chris Suh with Esquire Law Center.

Esquire Law Center paid for the door hangers in hopes these homeowners to call them for help.

"All of the ash and smoke goes pretty far, further than you are expecting it," said Suh.

But is the ash left over from the Mountain Fire dangerous to your health? Esquire Law Center says yes.

"The soot and ashes comes down through your ventilator, stays on your drywall, ceiling and if homeowners continuously inhale all of the chemicals, we believe it creates some problems," said Suh.  

We checked with the Riverside County Health Department.  While they did issue a health alert when there was smoke and particles in the air, Dr Cameron Kiser says now that the fire is just about out, the risk to your health is minimal.

"If they had a tremendous amount of ash, ya check it out be safe, and insurance companies will take care of it for you," said insurance agent Mike Williams.

Williams, who owns Canyon Pacific Insurance Services, says only file a claim if you really have to. "If you got a $1,000 deductible and the repair is $1,200, I personally would pay the $1,200 and not have a claim, because if you have a second claim for any reason then you are going to have two and it will make it more difficult to get insurance or you might be not renewed," said Williams.

Most residents we talked to weren't concerned, but if you decide to make a claim, you have to prove that your house is contaminated.  That process can take up to 6 weeks. 

"I think that is extreme.  If you really need to make a claim and you have a problem with your adjuster and the company, then you may want to contact a lawyer but going to a lawyer right away is a waste of everyone's time," said Williams. 

If you have any questions you can always call your insurance company and ask without penalty.