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Ettling, Bruce V. Electrical Fire Causes: Some Comments and Cautions. Speaking of Fire. International Fire Service Training Association. Spring 1985.

Abstract: This article discusses some of the common misconceptions regarding electrical fires. The author believes that too many fires are falsely attributed to electrical causes. The author provides many electrical installations and fixtures that should be examined to determine whether the fire was a result of the electrical system. Proof must be obtained to call the fire an electrical one. An investigator cannot simply examine the fire scene and conclude the fire was electrical because there is not a typical electrical fire scene. A specific electrical cause must first be found. Some common clues, like a blown fuse or breaker, cannot solely indicate an electrical fire, although they may contribute to the evidence.

The article lists many factors that could have started the fire, but are also commonly results of a fire. For example, arcing can cause a fire under specific circumstances, but arcing, along with electrical failures, is also a result of heat from a fire. The article also examines the different conditions wires may be found in after the fire and includes an illustration. Before determining that a fire was an electrical one, the investigator must make sure that the conditions were present to ignite a combustible substance.

For more information, contact:
IFSTA
Fire Protection Publications
Oklahoma State Universty
Stillwater, OK 74078-0118
Phone: 1-800-654-4055

 
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