Iversion, Donald, Hoffman, Dennis C., McGeachie, Leal, John, Loomis,
Dan. Fire Cause: Electrical Shorts. March 12, 1982.
Abstract: This is a research paper written by police and fire
officials. It provides steps investigators can follow to examine the electrical
systems of a building. The basic principles of the power supply, along with
definitions are provided in the first section of the article.
The first step in investigating any fire is determining the point of
origin. To investigate the possibility of an electrical fire, the investigator
must start at the power source and work towards the point of origin. This
usually means starting at the fuse panel. Before the examination begins,
all electrical equipment including wires should be photographed.
A short circuit is a common cause of electrical fires. It is the flow
of current in the wrong direction and can cause arcing, which is the current
flowing across an air gap between conductors. Arcing has the potential to
ignite surrounding combustible materials. Inspecting the power source can
corroborate the point of origin because it should reveal whether the circuit
was open or closed.