Donahue, Michael L and Campbell, Colin A. Investigation of Motor Vehicle
Fires. Firehouse. November, 1990. pp. 42-46.
Abstract: This is Part Two of a two-part article. Part One appears
in the August, 1990 issue of Firehouse. In this section of the article,
the authors discuss evidence collection and examination of the vehicle and
When arriving at the scene, investigators should be careful not to park
too close to the burned vehicle because physical evidence could be destroyed.
The perpetrator must leave the scene and many times he will leave his footprints
or tire tracks. A search of the area surrounding the fire scene should take
place to look for discarded containers of accelerants. Investigators should
take samples of the ground beneath the burned vehicle to test for traces
A thorough investigation of the vehicle should follow the scene examination
to determine the origin and cause of the fire. The investigator should approach
the vehicle systematically, working from the least burned area to the area
of greatest fire damage. The article divides the car into two sections,
exterior and interior, and lists different parts and components of the car
that should be examined and what an investigator's findings may indicate.
Once the physical investigation is concluded, the investigator should
interview witnesses and the owner of the vehicle. Fire, police, and insurance
records should also be checked for a history of previous fires or insurance
claims. The investigator should also speak to the neighbors of the owner
of the vehicle to learn if any work has been done on the car recently and
to verify the condition of the vehicle.
For more information, contact:
PTN Publishing Corporation
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