The State of California can expedite the replacement of documents if there is an urgent need especially passports for those with international travel or work requirements. Birth certificates should state the Bureau of Records for the state of birth. California birth, death, fetal death, still birth, marriage and divorce records are maintained by the California Department of Public Health, Office of Vital Records. Services provided by the Office of Vital Records include:

  • Issuing certified copies of California birth and death records that are on file from 1905 to the present
  • Maintaining a central registry of California marriages and divorces
  • Preparing new certificates for adoptions and changes in paternity information
  • Correcting and amending vital records as authorized by State law
  • Issuing certified copies of California fetal death and still birth certificates

For more information on the California Department of Public Health and the services they offer, visit or call 916-558-1784. For relay services for the hearing impaired or speech impaired, please call:

MCI from TDD 1-800-735-2929 or MCI from voice telephone 1-800-735-2922

Sprint from TDD 1-888-877-5378 or Sprint from voice telephone 1-888-877-5379

The following is a list of important documents and contact information in the event they are damaged or destroyed.

Recovery of Valuables contact table

Damaged Money Replacement

Paper Currency

Handle burned currency as little as possible. Place damaged bills inside a plastic bag for preservation. If the currency is at least half intact, take the remainder to your regional Federal Reserve Bank for replacement.

Ask your bank representative for the nearest location. Or you can mail the damaged currency by registered mail, return receipt requested to:

The Department of the Treasury

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Office of Currency Standards

P.O. Box 37048

Washington, DC 20013


Mutilated or melted coins can be taken to your regional Federal Reserve Bank or mailed by "registered mail, return receipt requested" to:

Superintendent U.S. Mint

U.S. Mint

P.O. Box 400

Philadelphia, PA 19105

Savings Bonds

If U.S. Savings Bonds were damaged or destroyed, you must obtain Department of Treasury form PDF 1048 (I) from your bank or download a copy at and mail to:

The Department of the Treasury

Bureau of Public Debt

Savings Bonds Operations

P.O. Box 1328

Parkersburg, WV 26106-1328

Damaged or Melted Precious Metals

A structure fire can generate heat exceeding 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, causing many types of metals to melt. It is common to see melted aluminum from window frames, as well as items like silverware, jewelry, and gold or silver coinage, transformed from their original state into an unrecognizable blob. If you had precious metals in the home and suspect that they may have melted, try and trace the approximate location of where the metals were stored. Once found, the precious metals can be taken to a local coin or bullion dealer or to a metal refiner to have the metal purified or assayed. Some coin or bullion dealers may purchase the metals in their damaged state. Even though the original state of the metal, may have been pure, after a fire, other metals and debris can mix with the metal. This may make the metal worth less than it would have been in its purified state. However, the precious metals will still be valuable and well worth the effort to salvage. When handling damaged or melted precious metals, use a mask and gloves.

Salvage and Recovery Tips

In the aftermath of a fire, you may want to attempt to locate or salvage items from the debris and ash. Never go into debris alone, at a minimum carry a cell phone for emergencies. One way is to build a sifter out of steel meshed screening. Using multiple screens with varying hole sizes, will allow ash and fine debris to pass through, while catching larger objects. The following is a list of some basic tools you can use to help salvage your belongings.

  • Masks
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Wheel barrow
  • Sifters
  • Buckets
  • Large scoop shovel
  • Square and round point shovels
  • Digging bar
  • Pick
  • Crow bar
  • Hammer
  • Grass rake
  • Rigid rake
  • Brooms
  • Electric hand tools
  • Garden hose
  • Cleaning brushes
  • Metal detector

NOTE: Use extreme caution when working in or around a damaged structure, even if the structure is burned completely to the ground. Protect yourself and others who may assist you, with the proper personal safety equipment.