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Arson / Fire Investigation

What is arson?

Arson is purposely setting fire to property, either personal or belonging to someone else.

Arson accounts for billions of dollars in lost or damaged property annually, but only about 17% of arson-related blazes result in arrest. A fire is only considered arson after all accidental causes have been ruled out, which means investigators have to prove an individual caused a fire deliberately and with harmful intent. This is why arson is both difficult to prove and prosecute in court.

Common Signs of Arson

  • A large amount of damage
  • No "V" burn pattern present, unsual burn patterns and high heat stress
  • Lack of accidental causes
  • Evidence of forced entry
  • Absence of valuable items
  • The same person shows up at unconnected fires
  • Low burning point with unidentifiable point of origin
  • Multiple points of origin
  • Presence of accelerants
  • Firefighters observe fire not acting normally
  • Color of the smoke
  • Damaged sprinkler systems
  • Environmental modifications (cloth trails, propped windows)
  • Suspicious behavior of property owner

What is an arson investigation?

Arson investigations are conducted to determine the cause of a fire and ensure the responsible party is held accountable.

Arson investigators are usually retired fire fighters or trained professionals with in-depth knowledge about types of fuel, how each fuel ignites and accelerates, and the impact each fuel has on the development of a fire.

How does a fire investigation work?

Evidence of arson is nearly impossible to preserve. Not only will the fire likely destroy physical proof but the water and chemical foam used to put out the blaze can also destroy potential evidence. Because of this, an arson investigator’s most important witnesses are the firefighters that first arrive on the scene. The investigator will ask firefighters for details such as the color of the smoke, damaged sprinkler systems, condition of doors and windows, and general strange behavior of the flames. After establishing the behavior of the fire, investigators will look for point of origin and any other physical evidence that can be documented. This allows them to reconstruct the event and use the scientific method to prove or disprove arson.

Why do people commit arson?

When examining arson, one of the biggest factors is motive. An investigator will look for one of these factors when considering whether someone committed arson:

  • Vandalism
  • Thrill Seeking
  • Concealment of a crime
  • Profiting from insurance money or property
  • Revenge
  • Attention seeking or satisfying a "hero complex"
  • Politics
  • Mental illness (pyromania)

Do I need an arson investigator?

You might want a fire investigator if:

You or someone in your family has been accused of arson. A qualified arson investigator can arm you with evidence that stands up in court.

Your home or property has been affected by fire. Losing property to a fire is both emotionally trying and expensive, especially if you’re suspicious of foul play. An experienced arson investigator can determine whether a fire was accidental or malicious, potentially saving you money and providing answers. Even if you’re not suspicious of arson, an arson investigator can observe the fire and ensure you get the insurance money you’re entitled to.

You are an insurer. Insurance companies lose billions of dollars annually to arson. Sometimes property owners will purposely set fires in order to collect insurance money. A fire investigator can determine the cause of a blaze and haste insurance changes in order to determine whether a policyholder deserves compensation.

 

 

Use the search utility on the top of this page or select from a state listed below to find an arson investigator, or give us a call at (888) 997-4669.

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