South Carolina Forestry Commission
News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2003

FORESTRY OFFICERS COMPLETE FIRE INVESTIGATION TRAINING

(COLUMBIA, SC) - Twenty-two Forestry Commission law enforcement officers recently finished a nationally certified wildfire investigation course. The week-long training focused on determining the cause and origin of forest fires.

The course combined classroom instruction and field investigation exercises. Students learned to examine a wildfire scene, interpret burn patterns, reconstruct the progression of the fire, and locate the exact point of origin.

"Wildfires create a trail of evidence as they burn" said Forestry Commission Chief Investigator Mike Heath. "This course teaches officers to draw specific conclusions from physical evidence left by the fire."

In South Carolina, most wildfires are caused by people. Finding the fire’s cause and origin are the first steps in identifying the person responsible for the fire.

Forestry Commission firefighters respond to about 5,000 wildfires every year. Forty-five percent of these fires originate from careless debris burning; 30% are deliberately started by woods arsonists.

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For more information, contact: Ken Cabe, 803-896-8820


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