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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 fire scene.

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 of accelerants.

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:
Firehouse
PTN Publishing Corporation
445 Broad Hollow Road, Ste 21
Melville, NY 11747
Phone: (516) 845-2700

 
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