Volume 34, Issue 3 (May 1989)
Surface Analysis of Electrical Arc Residues in Fire Investigation
Fires caused by electrical shorting are difficult to identify with certainty from fire pattern analysis alone. Surface analysis techniques, such as electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA) and auger electron spectroscopy (AES), can be used to determine the history of an electrical short circuit by characterizing the environment in which the electrical arc residues were formed. In a fire that destroys insulation, the surface of the arc bead formed from the resultant electrical short circuit would show the presence of combustion products. If the electrical short circuit occurred before the fire had started, then arc bead analysis would show the absence of combustion products.