Even the smallest information can make or break a case when investigating a crime scene. Crime scene investigators and analysts search for DNA, fingerprints, and various types of residue, all of which are essential parts of the investigation. Finding evidence that might lead to the origins of a crime is challenging enough, but when the crime is arson, more care and attention to detail is required to solve the case. Because of the destructive nature of fire, evidence may be difficult to obtain, requiring investigators to be extremely vigilant.
It is the crime of intentionally setting fire to buildings, vehicles, or other property to cause damage. This also includes a set of fires to others’ property or sometimes to own property to advantaged insurance facilities.
The lightning of a fire – It is the essential element of arson, in the absence of fire lit, there is no arson.
Intention or willfulness – This does not include fire caused by natural causes or accidents.
Malice – this does not include fire i.e. intentionally set with positive intention and property.
A definition of arson must include the element of intent. People start fires intentionally for a variety of reasons, including those that are legitimate and legal.
Fire follows the well-defined principles of burning. It produces heat, flame, smoke, and gases. The byproduct in combustion processes may or may not be seen readily. The term “flame” refers to both an open flame and a smoldering glow. Smoke is made up of condensed vapors and very fine solid particles. The composition of fire gases emitted by the burning materials. These depend on the chemical makeup of the burning material, the amount of oxygen available during burning, and the temperature of the fire.
Most fire gases are highly toxic. They are the biggest cause of fire deaths. This includes carbon monoxide not because it is very toxic but due to its abundance. Carbon monoxide causes unconsciousness and, eventually, death, when breathed in quantity. At lower concentrations, it results in disorientation and confusion and may cause other health hazards to victims. Carbon dioxide is the second most dangerous gas produced by a fire. A 2% increase in carbon dioxide in the air causes a 100 percent increase in a human’s breathing rate, which is not harmful.
Fire burns up and out. On walls and vertical structures, it leaves a V-shaped char pattern. A fire that is hot and fast at the point of origin will leave a sharp V pattern. A slow fire will produce a shallow V. While burning, if fire interacts with an obstruction, for example, a ceiling then it will burn across it and look for a place to go up. Fire travels in the direction of air.
Also Read: Fire & Arson Investigation
Motive of Arson
A few of the reasons for arson are given below:
• Financial gain (Insurance Claim)
• Civil Disorder
• Crime Concealment
• Delinquent Behaviour
• Dowry Death
• Communal Purposes
FUEL COLOR OF SMOKE COLOR OF FLAME
From the time an investigator arrives on the scene until the investigation is done, there are various procedures involved.
Step One: Arrival at Scene
A number of factors must be considered at the crime scene, including any visible victims, the extent of the fire’s destruction, and any witnesses or bystanders. Whatever is discovered at this early stage can help with the inquiry, no matter how little the detail. Small details might point investigators in the correct direction and provide clues as to whether a fire was started intentionally or by natural factors. Responders must also evaluate and be aware of any combustible objects within a structure, such as gas canisters or potentially explosive electronics. After responding officers have evaluated the scene, they can take necessary action to handle the situation, such as putting out the fire, evacuating individuals from the structure, and ensuring the surroundings is safe.
Step Two: Evaluating the Scene
Once the situation has been stabilised, investigators should meet with the incident commander and first responders to analyse prior events and the present condition of the fire scene, and determine scene safety and integrity concerns. Following these procedures will provide investigators with information about the scene and circumstance, allowing them to go on with the investigation. The investigator should interview witnesses and ascertain their identities. During the review phase, warning tape is placed around the designated scene area to keep the public out and to alert authorities to the crime scene bounds. Investigators evaluate the area visually, noting any evidence such as blood and the source of the fire.
Step Three: Documenting the Scene
The scene must be documented after the lead investigator has reviewed it. This includes taking notes, photographing the situation, and filming it. This enables for the original condition of the scene to be permanently retained in the event of tampering or shifting evidence around. Later in an investigation, photographs and videos might be utilised to search for clues and evidence that the investigator may have missed on the scene. Documentation may also include a written narrative, written observations and descriptions, and written guesses on the cause of the fire.
Step Four: Processing Evidence
During the processing step, the investigator gets hands-on with the scene and begins manually collecting evidence. Investigators must locate, gather, and preserve evidence; avoid evidence contamination; package and transport evidence; and create and maintain the chain of custody along this process. In the event of arson, this might include any firearms, explosive devices, matches, or anything else that could provide information about the origins of the fire. In the instance of arson, the evidence might help detectives figure out exactly what sparked the fire. Preventing evidence contamination is essential, especially in the case of a fire, where evidence may be impaired.
The next stage is to package and transport evidence, which comprises taking evidence to a secure location where it may be evaluated in a contaminant-free environment. Establishing and maintaining the chain of custody entails tracking the evidence at all times and documenting possession changes. Following the completion of the scene, detectives must proceed with evidence processing.
Step Five: Completing the Investigation
Investigators are required to perform the final steps in their on-site investigation once the scene has been secured, recorded, and cleansed of all relevant evidence. “Releasing the scene” and “Submitting reports to the proper database” are examples of this. Investigators must verify that they have collected all possible evidence, appropriately recorded the scene, and removed any materials utilized in the investigation before they may release the scene. After the site has been thoroughly cleansed, the fire may be thoroughly investigated.