Fire Debris




Fire Debris examinations arise due to suspicious fires in buildings, homes,

cars, etc. Gasoline and other ignitable liquids that are used to start fires leave

detectable residues after the fire has burned down or extinguished by fire fighters. Detection of residues from burned debris collected at the scene can be used to classify the type of ignitable liquid (e.g., gasoline, mineral spirits, etc.) used to start the fire. This analysis cannot identify an ignitable liquid to particular brand of ignitable liquid.


Evidence submitted for fire debris analysis must be submitted in a vapor-tight container, such as a metal paint can or a fire debris bag. Fire debris submitted to the lab is analyzed for ignitable liquids using activated charcoal and a gas chromatograph / mass spectrometer (GC/MS).


Metal paint can with fire debris, an activated charcoal strip suspended from the lid and an amber vial for archiving the remainder of the charcoal strip for possible future analysis.



Total Ion Chromatogram of gasoline



Total Ion Chromatogram of Kingsford Charcoal Lighter, a medium petroleum distillate