Massachusetts researcher awarded grant to assess reliability of wildfire burn patterns as a forensic tool

  • Source: Wildfire Today
  • Published: 03/26/2021 12:00 AM

A skilled wildfire origin and cause investigator can look at burn and char patterns on vegetation and other objects and follow them to the location where the blaze first ignited. If they are lucky, that could lead to the discovery of the cause and other physical evidence which could help track down an arsonist. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) researcher Albert Simeoni has been awarded $519,893 from the National Institute of Justice to evaluate the reliability of burn pattern indicators used by investigators to determine the starting point of wildfires. Simeoni, professor and head of the Department of Fire Protection Engineering, will use a laboratory wind tunnel at WPI, field studies in a New Jersey forest, and data analysis to determine if scars on a landscape, ash deposits, and other indicators widely used by investigators reliably point to the place where a wildfire originates.


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