Setting fires to bust crime

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- It's all about busting crooks and sending them off to prison. The ATF usually spends time solving arson, however this time around Federal agents were setting fires while prosecutors watched.

In a murder or a rape case, prosecutors often have a witness that they can call into court, but fires are usually set at night and there are often no witnesses at all. This may be the reason why arson is among the least prosecuted crimes in America. Even though it is also among the most costly.

The ATF says it doesn't have to be that way. Every fire leaves clues. When someone drips gasoline along the carpet, the heat from those flames usually leaves a pattern along the floor.

Fire always seeks air. Understanding that can guide you back to where it started. While evidence can burn, the motives such as insurance fraud, hate crimes, or even just a fascination with flames do not. All of the clues and motives eventually lead back to the arsonist.


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