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King, Charles G. D.O.A. At the Fire Scene. Fire Engineering. January 1987. pp. 19-23.

Abstract: This article describes a fire investigator's role at a fatal fire scene. The main objectives of an investigator should be recognize, document, and report. The first task upon arrival at the scene is to determine how the fire started. All accidental and natural causes must be ruled out before considering the fire suspicious.

Once the investigator has established the origin and cause of the fire, the investigation of the fatalities should begin. The investigator must determine whether the victims died as a direct result of the fire or from some other cause unrelated to the fire. A profile of the victim should be developed containing personal information and any other factors that can be deduced from the crime scene. The main question investigators should try to answer is, "why didn't the victim escape the fire?" The location and appearance of the body will help answer this question. The article provides a general list of arson-homicide indicators. After the preliminary inspection of the fire scene, the investigator should begin interviewing immediately to obtain as much accurate information as possible.

Once the body and surrounding areas have been photographed the body may be removed from the scene and transported to the medical examiner for an autopsy. Transporting the body should be done carefully to prevent further damage to the body. Any items surrounding the body such as eyeglasses, dentures, teeth, articles of clothing, and wigs should also go the medical examiner's office.

For more information, contact:
Fire Engineering
Park 80 West, Plaza 2, 7th Floor
Saddle Brook, NJ 07663,
Phone: (201) 845-0800
Web Site: www.fire-eng.com

 
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