Forensic Engineering Analysis of an Explosion Allegedly Caused by an Overfilled Propane Cylinder
Keywords:NFPA 921, fire investigation, origin, pattern, arc mapping, cause, propane cylinder, overfilled, overpressure, regulator, relief valve, leak, heat transfer, fluid dynamics, propane, gas migration, dissipation, diffusion, spoliation, forensic engineering
AbstractAnalyzing the origin and cause of fires or explosions for the purposes of legal proceedings requires the smooth integration of a reliable fire investigative methodology with sound engineering principles and practices. The origin of a building fire was first determined based on the methodology of NFPA 921 Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations. Engineering analysis was applied to witness observations, arc mapping, fire dynamics, and the evaluation of fire patterns. The fire cause was then evaluated considering NFPA 921 and integrated applied engineering analysis and calculations. The allegations of an overfilled propane cylinder as the cause of the fire were considered. Spoliation issues, poor investigation methodology, and the lack of sound engineering principles (resulting in unreliable opinions) are also contrasted and discussed.
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