To the average eye, all that's left in a fire-destroyed home is a burned out shell, but for an arson investigator, among all the charred wood are clues that explain exactly what happened.
"You know how we were talking about intensity, you can just tell just by looking at the roof there is a significant amount of burning," Mesa Fire Department Capt. Bob Looby said as CBS 5 News got a behind-the-scenes look at a fire investigation.
A fire didn't spare much more than the frame of an old farm house that sits off Country Club Road in Mesa.
A month ago, firefighters were called to the home after getting reports of flames shooting through the roof. Now fire investigators have the task of sifting through the remains - looking for clues that show them where the fire started and what sparked the flames.
"The main thing we want to do is we want to get a full overview of the structure. We don't want to miss anything," Looby said.
Looby said the point of origin isn't necessarily the part of the house with the most damage. That's why investigators start combing through the area least damaged first - collecting samples and bagging up evidence.
Looby said in the event there was a crime, they look for footprints and DNA samples.
Accelerants, like gasoline, are obvious signs of arson and a lot of times will leave behind patterns.
"If there is a piece of furniture, or more commonly a piece of carpeting, what we'll do is take a sample," Looby said, "we'll package it up and send it to the lab."
If faulty electrical equipment is suspected, parts of the system are taken and preserved for tests.
In the farm house fire, investigators found a lighter with paint cans in the back of the home.
Another crucial part to the investigation is the interviews.
Looby said what people see before a fire breaks out can provide the most information.
Witnesses in this case said homeless people may have been staying in the house. The exact cause of fire is still under investigation.
Copyright 2012 CBS 5 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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