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On February 7, 2008, at about 7:15 p.m., a series of huge explosions and fires occurred at the Imperial Sugar refinery northwest of Savannah, Georgia, causing 14 deaths and injuring 38 others, 14 seriously. The facility, which converted raw cane sugar into granulated sugar, had a material-handling system that included the familiar railcar unloader, belt conveyors, bucket elevators, and silo storage. The explosions were fueled by massive accumulations of combustible sugar dust throughout the packaging building.
In the course of an arson investigation one of the standard procedures is, when possible, to collect the clothing of arson suspects and have them tested for ignitable liquids. The hypothesis being that if the clothing tests positive for the same ignitable liquids that are found in the fire debris, it is good circumstantial evidence to place the suspect at the scene with an ignitable liquid.
A growing concern in the insurance sector is soot and smoke damage claims due to wildfires. Some of these fires can affect properties hund reds of miles downwind, causing the potential number of claims to be astronomical. Besides the known risks for respiratory and other health problems, smoke, soot, and char can cause physical damage ranging from settled ash to property damage.
The world of fire investigations is always changing and EFI Global is active in its research and testing methods. In an effort to support insura nce, subrogation, loss prevention and litigation relating to losses, EFI Global's chemical laboratories regularly perform chemical analysis on new products to identify potential accelerants and igni tion sources.. Recently, EFI Global laboratories conducted proactive chemical testing on a new matchless fire starter. This commercially available product is marketed and used to start wood and campfires.. The results of EFI Global's testing revealed the limitations and significance if this product is used as an accelerant.
Editor's note: A trend to require more fire safety equipment in residences and nursing homes will reduce deaths and injuries, both among firefighters and the general public, says E. Metts Hardy, vice president/Fire Investigations for EFI Global (www.efiglobal.com), a Kingwood, Texas-based provider of engineering, fire investigation, environmental, accident reconstruction, and laboratory testing services.
Books (e.g., Spontaneous Human Combustion) and TV shows on SHC have given a couple of new meanings to the term heartburn.
Electrical appliances or wiring are often fire cause scapegoats, simply because they're there. It's unusual to find a burned structure without some electrical wire or device in or near the fire origin.
Every year there are thousands of home fires all across the nation due to faulty household electrical wiring. There are an annual average of 110 electrical fires a day as a result of frayed wires, loose electrical connections, broken extension cords, faulty switches and outlets and other common sources.