After a fire, your priority after the safety of your loved ones is to collect your belongings. Make sure that you have proper clearance before entering your home as to not risk your safety.
The Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration or FEMA suggests that you handle and clean any belongings with extreme care after a fire.
How to handle items
Before you handle your items, photograph them for evidence. To hold your belongings again can be emotional, but you do want to be careful and handle the items as little as possible. Often, the items have a covering of soot that grinds into the item as you touch it. Not only does soot weaken the item, but the heat could cause further fragility. Do not hold items by weakened areas or apply pressure to melted parts. To pack up the items, place them in supportive containers to transport them.
How to clean items
One major mistake that people make when cleaning their belongings after a fire is that they use water or a cleaning solution. Just as you want to be careful when handling the item, you do not want to grind the soot and ash into it through cleaning. If you have wet items, let them dry and then use a vacuum at the lowest setting to clean your belongings. For books, you want to vacuum the outside before you open it. There are soot sponges for hardy items. Even if an item looks intact, it may not be. Glass, ceramic and even fabrics can easily break or fall apart.