List and explain the various clues that flames and smoke can offer the investigator in an arson investigation.

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Both the flame itself and the smoke associated with a fire offer important clues as to the nature of the fire. Different substances, whether wood, plastic, gasoline, kerosene, etc., burn differently, and each produces a distinctive flame and smoke. While the obvious first priority of a fire company responding to an alarm is to extinguish the flames and extract any people (and animals) found within the burning structure, attention is also paid to the physical characteristics of the fire. Just as household fire extinguishers are rated for different types of fire (e.g., electrical, wood, grease and oil, etc.), so are structural fires to which fire fighters respond diverse in terms of cause and effect.

Materials used in the construction of buildings, as well as substances found in nature, all have some chemical composition that distinguishes them from each other when burning. Wood, for example, contains carbon and oxygen that burn blue, as well as sodium, which burns orange. Fires also vary...

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