Arson suspect in California Fires, but how do they know that?
ryan | October 24, 2007 at 02:54 pmby
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As the fires continue to rage and fire crews work tirelessly to contain them, minds turn to understanding what caused them. Reports of suspected arson are emerging, but how do they know that (rather than global warming or George Bush)?
First, figure out where it got started. The place where firefighters first engaged with the blaze is a good place to begin, as are spots where eyewitnesses say they first saw flames or charred ground. Once there, investigators can lay down something like an archaeological grid and start sifting through the debris. This evidence might include the "puddled" burn patterns caused by an accelerant, or the remains of a cigarette. Investigators also look for footprints or tire marks, and they sometimes use magnets to find stray bits of metal that might have been part of a time-delayed incendiary device.