WINK News gets a look at how fire investigators dissect a scene

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LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Have you ever wondered how fire investigators determine where a fire starts?

Often times, evidence is destroyed at the scene. Only WINK News got a behind the scenes look at how the whole process works.

“Fire investigating is an art of science,” said Dale Reisen, chairman of the Lee County Fire Arson Task Force.

Here is the scenario: a car catches on fire, firefighters put it out, and then the investigation begins.

“When a fire happens, it creates its own evidence and that evidence is what they have to look for. Fire behavior patterns and fire travel patterns,” said Reisen.

Fire investigators need to figure out what caused the car to go up in flames. For this story, the engine compartment was set on fire and is determined to be arson.

“They are going to look for a “halo” which is a circle on the hood of the engine compartment, that’s going to show the hottest part of the fire was there and point right back down to the origin,” Reisen told WINK News.

Reisen has been a fire investigator for 22 years. He says the work is tedious, the evidence is often charred and they are shuffling through a pile of debris.

“Sometimes when the firefighters put the fire out, they put so much water on or with tools they use, they will move things around, which changes the patterns in there.”

WINK News was there as new fire investigators learned how to work a scene. They have been in a week-long course, learning how to determine the causation of fires in vehicles, structures and wildlands.

“I’ve never done anything hands on, I’ve never had any formal training. So, that’s why I decided to come to this class,” said fire investigator Orlando Hurtado, Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue.

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