The recent fires in Fort McMurray have been disastrous for home owners. Often, objects that have been in fires also become water damaged from recovery attempts. Families who are able to return to their homes will often be dealing with smoke, fire, and water damage or any combination of those effects. Each type of damage requires its own treatment, but if you can identify the type of damage early on you will be a few steps ahead to restore your artworks to the best they can be.
-Identify if the object has been exposed to water, this could mean the object has become curled, cockled or stained. This means that any soot or dirt may have become embedded in the paper fibers and may not come out. There is not much you can do for these objects except to be gentle as you handle them to prevent tearing.
-If you don't see any damage of this type you most likely have only soot and/or fire damage. If you see a heavy build up of soot or dirt on your objects, try not to move them or stack other things on top as this will embed the dirt into your object. If you have a gentle vacuum with a small nozzle, try and vacuum up as much of the soot as possible [Source].
-Objects that are still wet can be dried, this shouldn't be done by leaving them in a hot room as you're more likely to have a mold outbreak. Instead, try and increase the air circulation in the room by adding fans and opening windows.
-Photographs in albums and frames are particularly vulnerable when they have been wet then dried in their enclosures. Don't try and remove photos from their enclosures. If this has happened, the glossy gelatin layer on the top of your photo has most likely already attached itself to the glass or plastic of the enclosure. A qualified conservator may be able to remove the photos without damage.
In all cases, please contact a conservator before attempting any serious work, there are many misleading sources on the internet that give terrible advice (never clean your paintings with bread!). Most insurance companies cover having your artwork repaired by a conservator. Also beware any framing shops or artists who offer to restore your artwork without valid credentials (Not a member of the CAC, no Master's Degree or equivalent experience). Don't be afraid to ask for this information, and your conservator shouldn't be reluctant to give it out!
I hope this brief article helps, sometimes having a proper first response in a flood or fire can save a lot of time and money in the long run. Feel free to post any questions below, I would also be happy to refer anyone with objects that are not paper to an appropriate specialist conservator.