Arson Investigation Paper Example

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Wesleyan University
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In forensic science, there are incidences where you investigate fire events and give a report on the same. The overall fire investigation process involves a practical examination, closely surveying and evaluating the fire scene to establish the origin of fire also termed as the seat of the fire and other relevant information upon which the fire spread. It is for such reasons that the scene is always preserved similarly to that of a crime scene in most countries. Mostly, an investigator has to establish what caused the fire so that if the case was that of arson, the individual is charged in a court of law.

There were the three primary components that must be present for a fire to occur. On the video provided, the element includes sufficient amount of energy, a fuel source, and oxidation. Also, there is the self-sustaining chemical chain which produces fire tetrahedron (Daeid, 2005). Basically, these components available are the dry Scotch pine tree that act as the fuel source, enough air in the room as an oxidation, and cause of fire which for this instance may be considered as heat from all over the bulbs around the tree that acts as the amount of energy needed to start the fire.

Ignition may be caused by electricity as it is the only source of heat available. The flame point of the dry Scotch pine tree may have reached as a result of increased heat emanated from the lighting around the pine tree as stated above. Fire is transferred through two processes in the fire incident available in the video. From the source of fire, conduction first took place. In conduction, the dry Scotch tree acted as a medium through which fire spread from the bottom of the Xmas tree. If a post-fire incident is conducted, the seat of the fire would be discovered to be the bucket holding the tree. Generally, in most cases, the fire tends to burn upwards (Daeid, 2005). Easy determination of the seat of the fire is as a result of the fact that, the origin of fire tends to burn for quite a long time (Fairgrieve, 2008).

The fire spread faster through conduction as the dry matter flame point is achieved more quickly (Fairgrieve, 2008). Later, after reaching the helm of the tree, it spreads to the sealing through radiation. Radiation involves the emission of heat o other substance without any medium. Apparently, there is the closeness of the Xmas tree top and the sealing (Graziano, 2006). The minimal distance also contributes to the amplified range of the fire. Likewise, the same mode of radiation causes the igniting of the nearby sofa. Continuous spread of the fire is seen as the proximate locker is consumed by fire. Needless to mention, the sealing is overwhelmed by smoke and blazing fire which increases the heat within the room hence the constant spread of the fire to any adjacent flammable material.

The fire color suggests that carbon is present in the combustion. Apparently, the yellow and orange flames in addition to the high amount of smoke visible ascertain the presence of carbon (Fairgrieve, 2008). Furthermore, the direction of the smoke sometimes V-shaped gives the direction from which the fire originated. From the scene, if post-fire analysis will be done the smoke V-shape may tend to emanate from the point at which the dry Scotch pine tree was placed.

The fire damage at the scene determines the growth of the fire as well as the speed at which it spread (Daeid, 2005). From the video, the fire spread very fast due to the closeness of the materials. Something else that can be examined after the fire is the spalling of the plaster that would propose the rapid rise in temperature which suggests growth of the fire.

In a fire investigation, it is imperative to establish the cause of the fire as stated above. Fire may result from many reasons categorized as accidental, deliberate, natural or undetermined (Fairgrieve, 2008). In a point where the fire was started deliberately by a specific individual, it is considered arson. From the video provided, no material evidence is available leading to the conclusion of deliberate ignition of the fire. The origin of the fire was random in the case presented. The act of arson is ruled out for different reasons. There are no signs of the forced entrance like broken windows or other physical proof shown in the video that implies a person may have been involved with the start of the fire. A variety of motives that may lead to arson includes an act of terrorism, committing insurance frauds as well as ill intentions to conceal a previous crime (Daeid, 2005).

Looking at the video, it is likely that there was a spontaneous combustion. A spontaneous burning is an unexpected ignition of any material, in this case, the dry Scotch pine tree, without an external start such as a spark. Therefore, assuming the cause was an electrical fault, it might have been the low heat produced by the electric wires may have dissipated and cause reasonably enough temperatures to cause ignition. In many instances, the cable connecting the Xmas tree lighting may overheat hence becoming a fire cause possibility.

In conclusion, the source of the fire may be discovered to be at the bottom of the Xmas tree. Ignition probably caused by the overheating of the electric wire thus increasing the flame point. The fire spread faster as a result of available conductors that are the dry Scotch pine tree. Moreover, the closeness of the material instigated the faster spread of fire. Lastly, the cause of the fire is accidental as no much evidence is obtainable to suggest otherwise. It is also essential for an investigator with vast experience to interview any eyewitnesses to obtain information that can be used in reaching a general conclusion.


Daeid, N N., 2005. Fire Investigation, Florida: CRC Press

Fairgrieve, S, I., 2008. Forensic Cremation: Recovery & Analysis. Florida: Taylor & Francis Group. Graziano, J. (2006). Christmas Tree Fire. [video] Available at: [Accessed 11 Oct. 2017].

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