Fire & Forensic

Agricultural & Wild Fires

Accurate identification of the cause of an agricultural or wildfire plays a critical role when it comes to the presentation of evidence in Criminal, Coroners or Civil proceedings, or to gain an accurate picture of the cause of fires in an area. So how do you find the cause in a blackened landscape that may cover thousands of hectares?

Critical to any potential prosecution is the wildfire cause investigation and the examination of the fire scene to locate any evidence of an ignition source and enabling items of evidence to be linked to an arsonist, failed equipment, or a negligent act.

The investigation of the cause of Wildfires is somewhat different to that of building fire investigation. Even before the smoke disappears, the process begins and like any investigation, it requires accurate interpretation as to what occurred out of the ash and blackened vegetation that remains.

Wildfire investigations are becoming more significant as civil litigation cases begin to emerge considering accidental or negligent causes. As with all legal proceedings, a successful prosecution relies on, among other factors, the accuracy and reliability of the evidence presented, which can be very challenging.

How do you accurately determine the cause of a Wildfire?

By applying accepted methodology to a scene examination to accurately locate the Origin and link any evidence of the Ignition. This could be deliberate action, campfires, smoking, rubbish burning, equipment use, railways, powerlines, weather (lightning) or other miscellaneous causes.

The examination of the fire scene is a process which must be carefully applied. It is here where an extensive level of investigation experience and understanding of wildfire behaviour pays off.

Fire Pattern Indicators are used to reconstruct the overall Fire Pattern and accurately identify the Specific Origin Area, and ultimately the Origin/Ignition Area. Fire Pattern Indicators occur as a result of physical objects such as vegetation, rocks and discarded rubbish, displaying changes from exposure to heat, flame and combustion by-products.

AMA fire experts are extremely experienced in the investigative process and are more than capable of collating the necessary evidence into an expert report for the client.

Case Study: Soybean Fire

Our client had contracted to transport about 64,000 tonnes of Brazilian soybeans for delivery to a processing factory in China. On arrival the factory refused the soybeans claiming they were fire damaged and that our client, as the carrier was to blame for this because the export documents showed the soybeans were in order at the time of shipment. The factory then commenced legal proceedings to enforce a claim for damages in the full value of the soybeans plus consequential losses – in total about GBP £20 million.

Our experts attended to inspect the cargo and oversee independent sampling for laboratory testing. We then played an active role in the selection of laboratory tests and interpretation of the results across a range of aspects including mycotoxins, edible oils and crude proteins, and damaged / burned bean counts. Our local knowledge of import rules and national standards was crucial in the legal arguments that then developed between the parties relating to damages.

To ensure no further degradation of the cargo we oversaw its proper segregation and storage, and gave advice on blending and other mitigation options, including salvage sales and compliant disposal where damages were too extreme.

From our fire cause and origin assessment of the soybeans, and a review of supplied documentation and laboratory test results, we were able to provide compelling evidence that the cargo fire did not start while the soybeans were in our client’s care, allowing them to successfully refute the claims being made against them. 

AMA Provided: –

Agronomist (crop experts)
Cargo Surveyor (cargo shipment experts)
Fire Investigator (fire / forensic experts)

Why not give us a call now to see how we could help you

Scroll to Top