Fire Fatality

Fire Fatality

The call came over the radio:

"CSI Guy and Girl, can you please attend 123 Any Street, CID are in attendance, there has been a house fire with a fatality"

I looked at my crew mate, she had a puzzled expression on her face. I asked her how far away it was. It was only a matter of minutes away. We diverted to the station to collect extra kit. We needed our 'arson kits' that contain boiler suits, a special face mask and a hard hat. Although we weren't going to an arson (it was an accident) we would need the same protective equipment. My crew mate said that we normally require this kit as fire scenes tend to be dangerous, even after the fire has been extinguished.

As we approached 123 Any Street, there was a PCSO diverting traffic down a parellel road.
He recognised our unmarked van and waved us through. There were three fire engines in the road. I could hear indistinct voices on their radios. The shutters were up on the side of each engine. There was dirty water in the gutter where excess water from the hoses ran over the small patch of grass regarded as a garden at the front of the flats.

The flat was the last on the ground floor of a block of twelve which was arranged four side by side on three floors. Both CSI Girl and I bent over and made our way under the police tape and gave our names and collar numbers to the officer managing the scene log.

We walked down the side of the flats and through the gate. The back door was open, there was what looked like rubbish scattered over the grassed area. It turned out that these items were personal effects from the flat that the fire officers had removed in order to gain entry to the flat.

There were one or two fire officers inside, without breathing apparatus surveying the scene. I stepped closer to the back door. The door was a UPVC frame with two large sections of glass, top and bottom. I put my hand on the glass, it had a thick coating of soot, my hand left a void in the soot.

I'd never smelt it before but I new what it was.

As I entered the flat, I stood in the living room. It was full of charred belongings, each item with a thick black coating. There was hardly room to stand. There were items everywhere that hadn't been moved for years. It was a one level flat, living room, kitchen, and bathroom. No bedroom. This was accommodation provided by the local authority for one elderly male. It was shocking. This male had been left on his own, without aid for months and months. There was little evidence of any substantial diet.

The hallway was the root of the smell. Naked from the waist down lay a seventy something male, on his back on top of a collapsed bicycle, an expression on his face of shock. His mouth was wide open.

Rigor Mortis had fully developed and was present in his face, jaw, arms, legs and hands.

I won't forget the smell. It was mixed with smoke and soot. It wasn't as strong as it could have been. The door had been open for some time when I had arrived which provided some ventilation.

The Fire Brigade had sent a member of FIT, the Fire Investigation Team, to determine the source of the fire. It transpired that there was an electrical fault on a light in an old display cabinet that had slowly burnt the chipboard.

It was unclear what had caused the elderly male to die. Had he died before the fire or as a result of it? He had soot in his nostrils, which may suggest he was breathing when the smoke was present. The cause of death wouldn't be determined until a Post Mortem was complete.

I held the male's arms in place as well as I could so that CSI Girl could photograph his hands and arms. This was done as a way to show that there were no injuries, defensive or otherwise. His arms were cold to touch.

CSI Girl took a number of photographs of the male. She also took photographs of the flat. This helps show the standard of living of the deceased male. The bath was full of belongings piled almost as high as the top of the door frame. The kitchen surfaces had rubbish and frying pans scattered over them with an additional layer of dust and dirt that had collected over the months.

It was decided that the fire was accidental and not suspicious. All the doors were locked and there was no sign of forced entry. The male was elderly and visibly frail. He had no injuries. The photographs would be kept for evidential purposes. The post mortem was likely to confirm the FIT's thoughts.

One thing that I will remember is that the smoke detectors had been removed. The elderly male was a smoker and didn't like going outside to smoke. If the detector was in place it may have given an early warning.


  1. this sounds fascinating- cant wait to read more : )

  2. is it a very hard job to get into? qualifications/exp etc??

  3. jgermany88 - As a rule you will need experience or qualifications in one of a few areas - forensic science, photography or other sciences (biology, chemistry etc) I had the photography aspect and previous experience with a police force. Positions are few and far between and attract many applications. I'd encourage anyone to apply if they thought they had what it takes. SO far it's been a great job and I can see it being a great career.

    Thanks for reading my blog.

    CSI Guy