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According to Lentini, the first step to an arson investigation is to make sure the fire that had happened was intentionally set (Lentini, 2012). This step must come from a knowledgeable investigator on arson cases to prove that it was an intentional fire. Arson investigations can also occur is two different stages (Franjić, 2018). The first stage of an arson investigation includes examining the fire to determine the cause of it and whether it was set intentionally or on accident. Continuing the first stage includes finding the origin of the fire and then fining the spread/development of the fire (Franjić, 2018). The second stage of an arson investigation includes laboratory analysis of samples retrieved from the scene of the fire if arson is suspected (Franjić,2018)

In order for a fire to be considered arson, an investigator must prove that tampering has occurred with at least one factor of the fire tetrahedron. The four factors of a fire include chemical reaction, flammable substance, starting heat source and oxygen (Taylor, Rosenhan, Raines, & Rodriguez, 2012). A common item to look out for is flammable accelerants, which is widely know for arsonists to use (Taylor, Rosenhan, Raines, & Rodriguez, 2012). Flammable accelerants are known as gasoline, kerosene or diesel. Since most arsonists use flammable accelerants, the debris after the fire would include air tight containers, which can be paint cans (Taylor, Rosenhan, Raines, & Rodriguez, 2012). Tests are done on these found containers to find suspected traces of the flammable fluids to conclude that the fire was considered arson. A few other signs to look out for is forced entry if the fire started inside the building and if any cameras are in the area to possibly see the cause of the fire.

Legal entry is allowed when it comes to the immediate fire scene to make sure no individuals are inside the burning building. There are methods used for legal entry of the scene which include exigent circumstances, consent, search warrants, and a criminal search warrant. If possible, evidence that is found at the fire scene that may be considered arson, a criminal search warrant must be processed before investigating the evidence. Legal challenges that may arise could be trying to keep the chain of custody. Another legal issue that may arise could be third party claims. 

Lentini, J. J. (2012). The Evolution of Fire Investigation and its Impact on Arson Cases. Crim. Just., 27, 12.

Franjić, S. (2018). Investigation of Arson. J Crim Forensic studies, 1(1), 180001.

Taylor, C. M., Rosenhan, A. K., Raines, J. M., & Rodriguez, J. M. (2012). An arson investigation by using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography-quadrupole mass spectrometry. J. Forensic Res, 3, 169-179.

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