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The Arson Epidemic

Karissa McKinney
CMRJ206   Professor Mark W. Bond
February 17, 2009
Once the fire is out, the investigation starts. There are usually two types of ways that a fire starts: one is ignorance which is an accident and the other is criminal which is malicious and therefore arson. According to Brady (1982), “…Arson is becoming one of the most destructive and profitable crimes in the country” (p.249).   There are many victims that occur once a fire is started with the malicious intent. Individuals, whole communities, real estate companies, banks, insurance agencies, law and fire departments are all affected in one way or another from this crime.   In 2009, Swanson, Chamelin, Territo, Taylor, concluded, “Arson is an inherently difficult crime to detect and prosecute, in part because the motivations for and methods of committing arson vary widely” (p.594).   Arson investigations are a highly elaborate process, unless it is conducted immediately and with help from several departments; police, fire and insurance, valuable evidence may be lost.
Ignorance or Malice?
Investigation into a fire is the responsibility of both the police and the fire department; if they work together valuable evidence can be maintained and processed. The fire department has a difficult task where in they are taught to be more concerned with public relation of cleaning premises of debris and water, than that of fire loss (Swanson, Chamelin, Territo, Taylor, 2009, p.594). It is up the police arson investigator to bridge this gap to ensure that the scene is not compromised and evidence is not overseen and destroyed. Once the fire has been extinguished the task of the investigator is to examine the remains of the building and the surrounding area for evidence of how the fire may have begun. This examination can lead directly to knowing if the fire was an accident or if it was arson.
Once the fire has been determined to have been set deliberately and with intent the...


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