How do you discover the cause of a fire.


If the whole house is burnt to a crisp, how can they figure out what started the fire? I’m especially curious with forest fires. Like do they really know or is it more of an educated guess?

In: Earth Science

There’s a whole brand of investigation (part detective, part engineering, part lab tech) for fires. In general, it’s not that hard to trace the direction of travel of a fire. Trace it backwards until you can’t go farther back and you’ll find the origin point.

From there it depends on how much evidence is left…fires are destructive but rarely hot enough to vaporize *everything*, particularly metals/glasses and chemical residues. Then educated guessing kicks in.

If the origin point of a forest fire is a splintered wreck of a tree in the middle of nowhere with no humans signs, and the origin time lines up with storms, lightning is a pretty likely culprit. If it started in the middle of an accessible field on a clear day with known human activity, a cigarette or other human ignition is much more likely. Bonus points if the perps posted their gender reveal video gone wrong on social media.