How Long Do Arson Investigations Take?

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arson investigations

It is not unheard of that people set their property on the blaze to collect the insurance money. A typical insurance policy covers only accidental occurrences. Intentional acts of malice are not covered. Therein lies the need for proper investigation and exercising caution by the insurer. Usually, depending on the severity of the damage and the evidence found, a fire claim investigation can take some time. If you were expecting a quick settlement, you probably need to revise your timelines.


Arson is deliberately setting fire to property. It could either be your personal property or that belonging to some other person.

Fire damage is not automatically considered to be arson. It is only judged to be so once all accidental causes have been eliminated. It means now the investigators have to provide evidence to the effect the individual caused the fire on purpose, and they intended to cause harm to the property. It is for this reason proving arson is a challenging task and often takes time.

Arson Investigation A Challenging Task

An arson investigation is challenging because preserving its evidence is nearly impossible. The fire destroys its physical proof, and the water and chemical foam used to kill the fire destroys the remaining potential evidence. Therefore, the arson investigator depends on eyewitnesses’ statements and the firefighters’ findings to prove what actually happened.

Arson is extremely destructive in nature. Only a trained and knowledgeable person can correctly interpret the clues or evidence to prove the fire was an intentional act. One would not be wrong in saying that an arson investigator or fire investigator is a fire scientist and a detective. The evidence is analyzed to determine what caused the fire, the accelerant used, utilities tampered with, etc., to identify the criminal nature of the activity and the perpetrator behind it.

How Long Do Arson Investigations Take?

An arson investigation is just like any other fire investigation. It takes anywhere between a few days to a few months, depending on the loss and damage wrought by it. An arson investigation is usually wrapped up in about six months. So don’t expect a quick settlement.

Signs Of Arson

A few common signs that are indicative of arson are:

1. Absence of proof of accidental occurrence, especially the “V” burn pattern.
2. Signs of forced entry.
3. Valuable items are missing.
4. Contradictory statements from the property owner.
5. The damage is too extensive.
6. There are unusual burn patterns that support the theory of high heat buildup.
7. The color of the smoke is indicative of external agents used to set up the blaze.
8. Accelerants are used to spread the fire.
9. Utilities like the fire extinguisher, fire alarm, sprinkler system, etc., are tampered with.

Steps Involved In Arson Investigation

1. An arson investigation typically begins with an interview of the first responders on the scene, which happen to be the firefighters. The investigator questions them about things like the fire pattern, smoke color, condition of the sprinkler system, the behavior of flames, etc. 

2. After this primary inquiry, the investigator looks for the point where the fire originated. He, too, documents all the evidence. 

3. Finally, the investigator reconstructs the complete sequence of evidence using scientific methods to prove whether the fire was accidental or arson.

Do I Need To Engage The Services Of An Arson Investigator?

The standard practice is for the insurance company to send their fire investigator to assess the scene of damage. However, in certain circumstances, it would be beneficial to engage the services of an independent investigator, especially if:

1. Either you or someone else in your family is being accused of arson. In this case, an independent investigator’s report can supply you with the necessary evidence to support your case in a court of law.

2. Your property or your home has suffered fire damage. Fire damage is usually extensive and expensive to overcome both mentally and financially, sometimes even physically. If you suspect foul play, an independent fire investigator can help you unearth the evidence. Even otherwise, his findings can help you get the maximum possible settlement from the insurance company. In short, it is a win-win situation for you.

Why Do People Commit Arson?

Why do people do anything wrong? Sometimes to make easy money and sometimes for financial gain. Some resort to it just for thrills, and some even to exact revenge. Vandalism, politics, and mental illness could be the other guiding factors. No matter what the reason, arson is a crime punishable by law.

The Conclusion

How long do arson investigations take? There is no fixed period in which a fire investigation is wrapped up. Everything depends on how significant the damage was and the evidence collected from the site. To be truthful, even the interpretation of the evidence can take time. Yes, all fire investigations follow the same process, but to say the procedure is simple and straightforward would be a straight-up lie. It is because every fire is different, and so is the investigator involved. Similarly, if the fire resulted in extensive damage to property and loss of life, the investigation will probably continue for a long time.

A fire investigation is not considered complete until the fire investigator submits the written report. The claims for small fires are typically closed within a week, perhaps even two, but in the case of large fires, the investigation alone takes months, so it would be foolish to think of a quick settlement.

As an insured, if you ever feel that justice is not being served with the fire claim settlement process, you always have the option to hire a public adjuster. The public adjuster works for the insured and not the insurance company and is well aware of all the tricks that can help you get the best possible settlement. If you are a resident of Florida and in need of such expert help, you can never go wrong by hiring Continental Public Adjusters. With thousands of successful claim settlements, we assure you of the best possible service and the best possible outcome. To book an appointment, call (800) 989 – 4769.