Success Story: Advancing the Forensic Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Fuel Fires

Success Story: Advancing the Forensic Analysis of Ignitable Liquid Fuel Fires

National Institute of Justice and JENSEN HUGHES


February 2018


Investigating fires with “liquid fuel” is particularly challenging, as the combustion of building materials often conceals the presence of the fuel. JENSEN HUGHES, led by Dr. Daniel Gottuk, evaluated the differences in fire dynamics and fire damage between ignitable liquid fuel fires in open-burning and enclosed scenarios, with and without furnishings. Full-scale testing was conducted to identify optimum sampling locations within fire patterns to identify ignitable liquid residue (ILR). The study provides fire investigators with new methods and guidelines for conducting calcination depth measurements and analyzing heat impact on gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) relative to fire patterns.

“Dr. Gottuk’s work has reduced the number of inaccurate arson determinations based on low burns and holes in the floor. It has even played a role in reversing some wrongful convictions based on the misconception that ignitable liquids burn holes in floors.”

- John Lentini, CFI, D-ABC | Scientific Fire Analysis, LLC

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence success story was provided by the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this success story are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Contact us at with any questions and subscribe to our newsletter for notifications.

Related Content

FITS—Functional Implementation of Thorough and Systematic Approaches for Fracture Examinations

This webinar originally occurred on June 4, 2024 Duration: 1 hour Overview The separation of materials such as tape, plastics, and textiles from their original source frequently occurs during violent activities, leaving distinct patterns along the fractured edges. These features…

Validation of a Confirmatory Proteomic Mass Spectrometry Body Fluid Assay

← Back to Webinar Series Page This webinar originally occurred on December 7, 2023Duration: 1 hour Overview With increasingly sensitive forensic methods for DNA detection, the source from which a DNA profile is obtained becomes increasingly important. Was an individual’s…