How cause of fire investigated by forensic team after a complete property burned to ashes?


How cause of fire investigated by forensic team after a complete property burned to ashes?

In: 9

Even burned ash gives clues to what it was before. Bits of wire, partially burned plastic, burn patterns. An arson investigator could give you the nitty gritty, but it boils down to the science of fire.

Well, it’s pretty rare that something burns *completely* to ashes. Usually there is a lot left standing. Depending on how much is left, they can figure out where the fire mostly likely started, and they can do chemical analysis on the remains to see what kind of accelerant was used, if any.

Then, it’s basically about finding the explanation that best fits the evidence. If they detect gasoline, it was probably arson, because people usually don’t have that hanging out in their house. If they don’t find an accelerant and they think it started near where the Christmas tree stood, it was probably an overloaded outlet that set a dry tree on fire. They may never know 100% the cause, they just try and figure out what makes the most sense.

Completely to ashes??? Probably can’t learn too much, but for something to burn that completely it would likely need some form of accelerant, and that would leave a chemical trace.

Another example I heard once is the path of a fire. Fire needs air, but everyone should know that if a room is on fire that there will be little air. So, a fire starts and it can burn a small area very well, but as it spreads it will only “char” most things as air runs low. This means that when the fire is out there will still be a lot of remnants that are damaged but still intact. If there are multiple locations where things are completely burned then that means there were multiple locations where fire started.

Ash isn’t uniform. It has varying composition, position and locations and can provide immense information. For example, different types and temeperatures can be asertained to see where fire was and how intense it was in different places, they can measure wire which may not actually burn normally, unless there was an electric fault. It could melt or deform but chemically would be unburnt, save for the fault.

Or accelerant will leave chemical traces behind in the ash.

Sometimes they can’t figure out what has happened due to the damage, it depends how intense the fire was and how much damage was done. The second Glasgow school of art fire for instance, the fire service have a few ideas but will never be able to tell exactly what happened, unlike the first fire.