This piece in the Los Angeles Times today couples nicely with my story today on fire investigators.

The Times piece looks specifically at the challenges involved with investigating arsons and the difficulties involved in bringing suspected arsonists to trial.

Here’s the nut of the story:

This weekend, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once again promised that the state would catch and punish the arsonists.

“We will hunt down the people responsible for that. We will not fail,” he said. “If I were one of those people who started the fire, I would not sleep soundly.”

If history is any guide, making good on that promise will require not only diligent investigation, but some unexpected breaks.

“A little luck never hurts,” said April Carroll, a special agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who specializes in arson. “Fortunately, the criminal sometimes messes up. They become cocky. They make a mistake. And hopefully you’re there to catch them.”

Two of the more than 30 fires that burned through Southern California last week have been determined as arsons so far. As I reported today, the causes of all but one of the major fires in San Diego County are still under investigation.

According to the Times piece, even if it’s determined that one or more of the fires was arson, there’s still a lot more work for investigators to do.


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