It takes work to determine if a fire is an accident or arson

An inside look with Local 4 Defenders

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – The Defenders go along with arson detectives to find out what it takes to solve the crime.

It takes a lot of work and many hours to determine if a fire was an accident or arson.

The Oakland County Sheriff's Arson Unit investigates about 60 arsons a year. They conduct interviews, get lab tests and do old fashioned police work. 

Scott Pasini and Chip Schulz are detectives with the Oakland County Sheriff's Arson Unit.

A fire can prove to be a challenge to investigate because most of the evidence burns away.

There are four detectives assigned to the arson unit full time.

Pasini used to be a Farmington Hills Firefighter but now he's an arson detective. He said he documents everything.

Investigators interview neighbors, fire departments, and police officers. They also take photographs.  Burn patterns can give clues to how a fire started. If it's a natural fire or accidental the fire will burn up and out. Arson would burn differently.

When interviewing witnesses and owners of homes an interview can quickly turn into an interrogation.

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