Photos Contribute to Fire Investigation

Sep 22, 2015

Photos can be a valuable resource for fire departments investigating the cause of fires. Kachemak Emergency Services responded to a house fire Saturday, August 29th and Fire Chief Bob Cicciarella says pictures taken by a member of the public are contributing to the investigation. KBBI’s Quinton Chandler has more.

The weekend fire was about 20 miles out East End Road on Falls Creek Road. The fire was called in around 11:50 am and Kachemak Emergency Services was on scene within 10 minutes. Chief Cicciarella says the fire was brought under control by 1:00 pm that afternoon. There is an estimated $250,000 of damage. 

     “The front half of the house was pretty much destroyed. We were able to save the backside with the bedrooms and most of the back of the downstairs as well,” says Cicciarella. 

      The homeowners were out at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. Cicciarella says the cause of the fire is still under investigation but the hypothesis is this was an electrical fire.      Cicciarella says shortly after their arrival a passerby approached him with pictures he’d taken shortly before. The Chief says the pictures have so far helped to confirm suspicions of the fire’s progression. 

     “We had a pretty good idea of where it started based on the fire activity that we saw on our arrival. It just helped us confirm what happened in the beginning of the fire and how the fire vented itself and ended up growing,” saysCicciarella.

      Cicciarella says it’s very important for fire departments to know as much as possible about the start of a fire. 

     “We investigate every fire to determine the cause for everything from whether it’s accidental or if somebody caused or started it themselves,” says Cicciarella.

      And those answers help determine everything from whether insurance companies will fulfill a claim to whether criminal charges are appropriate.      Cicciarella says pictures are always potentially helpful in an investigation but he does not want to encourage people to go out of their way to take these photos. 

     “You got to keep a really good safe distance. Even pictures from passing by in their vehicle would be helpful. Anything can happen in a fire and it’s hard to determine a safe distance based on what is happening and the type of fire,” says Cicciarella.

      He says cameras have zoom lenses so people should use those as much as possible and should not go near a fire for any reason.