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Fire Cause and Origin Determination

I’m David Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Whenever there is a fire, it usually becomes vital to determine the cause and origin of that fire.

It may be a case to collect fire loss insurance or a claim to recover for an injury caused by carelessness. But in either case, the cause and origin of the fire will be necessary.

You have probably watched TV shows where fire cause and origin are issues. But it is unlikely you were treated to the details of how someone goes about determining cause and origin?

One of the things that will be examined is the structure involved in the fire.

An effort will be made to determine the structure’s pre-fire condition. An investigator will examine whether utilities, such as gas and electric, were in place at the time of the fire.

Investigators will try to determine if the windows were open or closed. They’ll try to determine if there is evidence of an explosion occurring.

In nearly every case, extensive photography and video recording will be done of the scene. Such imaging will help determine where the fire started and disclose the combustible materials involved in the fire.

An expert in such investigations will try to reconstruct the fire event.

In this reconstruction, the investigator tries to determine the fire patterns to see which surfaces in the structure were exposed to fire for extended periods.

During this investigation, it will be important not to disturb the debris left after the fire. The debris can help show the pattern of the fire.

As you can imagine trying to sort through fire debris is a backbreaking job. You have to shovel through the material and, at the same time, make sure that in doing so, you do not disturb key evidence.

In all of these investigations, the focus will include ignition source, fire temperatures, ignition sequence, and the like.

As an investigator completes their investigation, typically, they will develop a model that reconstructs the fire. This is not a physical model but an explanation or scenario of what happened that fits the facts of the scene compellingly.

It’s often amazing to see what can be uncovered.

In one case, there was proof that a refrigerator motor overheated and started a fire in the kitchen. Who would think a refrigerator motor would overheat, but it did in this particular instance. In another case, a burner on a stove was left on.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”