Originally Posted By: rmeyers
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I agree with Igor & Dave that it doesn’t appear to be a major structural issue. I’ve been in several attics where there were previous fires and usually the smoke damage from a source of ignition within the attic space would be much more extensive on the framing and 1x4 sheathing slats.
The burn pattern being predominantly on the top of the rafters and the bottom edge of the slats would also indicate that the source of ignition was from the outside - burning inward - probably during a time when the wood shingles or shakes were exposed. (And obviously prior to the most recent re-roofing as shown by the clean sheathing throughout the attic.)
The location of chimneys and the presence or lack of spark arrestors may also shed light on the cause. The combination of wood roofs and wood burning fireplaces was a safety issue 100 years ago and still can be today, especially with aging roofs and no spark arrestor on wood burning fireplaces.
Being able to tell your client that the source of ignition was from the exterior may help put their minds at ease with respect to finding additional hidden interior fire damage.
In reality, the greater concern would be the CURRENT potential sources of ignition in a 102 year old house! (Brick fireplaces & chimneys, left over knob & tube wiring, gas lights, and most dangerous, the inevitable DIY updates!)
Sometimes it's nice to be able to impress your client with seemingly irrelevant facts about their new home. Just be sure of your facts and don't try to B.S. them, that usually back fires!
In other words - Dazzle them with your foot work but keep your guard up!
Too many blows to the head will eventually take their toll!