Forest fires are generally consciously or unconsciously the work of man for various reasons. Fires generated byvoltaic arc between power lines and the underlying trees do not occur often. These few cases may be only demonstratedby analyzing around the site where the arc may have been generated. Material such as leaves, bark and soil can beanalyzed to find the metallic residues from the fused cables. The electrical cables usually composed of aluminum orcopper alloys, when involved in an electric arc may spray fused micro-drops of metals, increasing the natural levelof such elements. In two cases, the Al and Cu concentrations were increased by between 2.56 to 13.9 times thebackground levels. Electron microscopy of leaf surfaces has identified some profound alterations produced by theintense heat of the electrical discharge.
In 2009-2013, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 56,000 structure fires per year in homes that involved heating equipment. These fires resulted in annual losses of 470 civilian deaths, 1,490 civilian injuries, and $1.0 billion in direct property damage. These homes included one- and two-family homes (including manufactured homes) and apartments (including townhouses and other multi-family dwellings).Space heaters are the type of equipment most often involved in home heating equipment fires, figuring in two of every five fires (40%). The fires involving space heaters accounted for 84% of the civilian deaths and 75% of civilian injuries in home fires caused by heating equipment, as well as over half (52%) of direct property damage. Another one-third (32%) of fires involved a fireplace or chimney, but these fires accounted for a much smaller share of civilian fatalities (5%) and civilian injuries (6%). Central heat and water heaters were responsible for 12% and 10% of home fires caused by heating equipment, respectively.
By Charles C. Roberts, Jr., Ph. D., P.E.
Automobile engine coolant related fires may result from engine coolant leakage,an increase in the concentration of the glycol in the water/glycol mixture, thenature of the vapor/particle distribution, and contact with an ignition source inthe engine compartment. Ethylene glycol, a common coolant, is a flammableliquid with an ignition temperature near 800F. In recent years, propylene glycolis being used because of environmental reasons. Propylene glycol is also aflammable liquid with an ignition temperature near 700F. In an automotiveapplication, the glycol is mixed with water at about a 50/50 ratio. Ignition of thisconcentration of coolant is difficult because of the water. When released at hightemperatures into the atmosphere where the water evaporates, the glycolvapor/liquid droplets can reach the state of an ignitable mixture. Typical ignitionsources in the engine compartment include hot surfaces (exhaust manifold,exhaust system) and electrical components (relays, distributor, spark plug wires).Automobile accidents, resulting in hot vapor expulsion from the coolant system,are also known to cause fires.
In this paper, we review the research results about the identification of the electrical fire trace evidence and the fire reason recognition. We point out the existing problems and put forward the corresponding suggestions to promote the development of the cause of the fire investigation and make it better to serve for the work of fire investigation.
From Out of the Abyss...
This week’s article from the past is titled Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted and was written by Benjamin Horton, CPCU, who was President of the National Adjuster Traing School in Louisville, Kentucky.. It is taken from the Decembe 1968 Vol. XVI No.5 issue.
Incendiary Fires Can Be Spotted
In the new issue of NFPA Journal®, President Jim Shannon said the Association will focus on the leading causes of home fires, including cooking. "We also need to continue to push hard for home fire sprinklers. That's still a large priority for NFPA, and we plan to work very aggressively in 2014 on our residential sprinkler initiative," he said.
Members and Friends
As you all are aware, we at CCAI want you to be informed. Therefore, I will relate to you an incident that happened in Irvine, CA.
A young school teacher was living in an upscale three story apartment complex on the second floor. The apartment had one bathroom, one bedroom, a living room, and a kitchen area off the living room. The ceiling above the kitchen was at 7 feet while the rest of the apartment was standard height of 8 feet. The apartment has fire sprinklers and one sprinkler is located above the kitchen counter and would reflect water onto the range and counter top if activated.
For some reason the school teacher was burning a Citronella candle on the counter top adjacent to the sink. The candle she purchased was in a small metal bucket with a hoop handle; the candle was not confined in glass. The teacher was washing dishes in the sink when her cat jumped onto the counter top and knocked over the bucket containing the candle. She reacted and reached for the toppled candle with both hands. In one hand she had a glass that she was washing, which contained an amount of water. Some of the water went into the bucket with the candle. A flame came out of the bucket and caused the sprinkler to activate. The water from the sprinkler also got into the bucket and there was an explosion. This entire event happened in a matter of seconds.
The thought of a candle exploding was a mystery to me and investigator partner, Harry Hatch. We checked several stores trying to purchase the same type of candle the school teacher had described, but no luck. We wanted to see just what the candle would do and also prove or disprove the event.
After looking up Citronella candle fires on the net, we were very surprised to learn that yes, if you add water to a burning Citronella candle it will flare up and sometimes cause an explosion. We all learn something all the time. Be informed and go to yahoo, type in Citronella candle fires and have a look at the videos; you may be as surprised as we were.
Do not be afraid to write us with your hints or new investigation experiences. CCAI is in the business to keep you up to date and informed.
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