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#46524 - 12/25/04 07:00 AM Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
sparky66wv Offline

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2334
Loc: West Virginia
Long Story Short:

Friend of mine has house catch on fire, damage not too bad, but bad enough.

Fire started in flue, apparently due to a damper being opened too much on a woodstove.

Fire Marshall declares it "Accidental Arson", claims it has a possible 1-to-5 attached and makes certain the insurance won't pay.

Accidental Arson?


Oh yeah, Fire Marshall controls electrical licensing here, so it's kinda related to electrical work...

[This message has been edited by sparky66wv (edited 12-25-2004).]

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#46525 - 12/25/04 07:56 AM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
Sir Arcsalot Offline

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 117
Loc: Lynden, Washington
"Accidental Arson"? That's like saying "I accidentally threw the ball with all the strength I could muster".

Something's wrong with that picture.
No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.

#46526 - 12/25/04 08:15 AM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
ga.sparky56 Offline

Registered: 11/24/02
Posts: 582
Loc: young harris georgia usa
Hmmm....according to my dictionary,Arson is defined as: "The willful or malicious burning of a property"

The words "Arson" and "accident" are mutually exclusive as defined by the dictionary. What a world.


#46527 - 12/25/04 09:10 AM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
Coastal Offline

Registered: 12/17/04
Posts: 22
Loc: Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948
Your friend should consult his attorney. I have heard of "homeowner negligence" but never "accidental arson".

#46528 - 12/25/04 12:32 PM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
pauluk Offline

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
Yeah, I'd challenge this one. "Accidental arson" is a contradiction in terms.

#46529 - 12/25/04 02:15 PM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
wa2ise Offline

Registered: 11/29/02
Posts: 769
Loc: Oradell NJ USA
Maybe it's similar to "involuntary homicide" in that, sure you didn't mean to do it, but you should have been more careful. ?

#46530 - 12/25/04 05:29 PM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
NJ Wireman Offline

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 179
Loc: New Jersey (South Jersey)
12 years firefighting never heard of such a thing. its either a accident or its arson

#46531 - 12/25/04 05:41 PM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
Wirenuttt Offline

Registered: 11/10/02
Posts: 267
Loc: Massachusetts

#46532 - 12/25/04 09:05 PM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8532
Loc: SI,New Zealand
It sounds like your friend has dealt a cruel blow there, mate.
Having a house damaged caused by the soot in the chimney catching fire, is a common occurence where I come from and I expect it happens in other places as well.
But, to have a Fire Marshall come up with something like that, is wierd to say the least!.
There is a clear-cut line between a Deliberately-Lit fire and an Accidental fire.
And I reckon that the Fire Marshall is just being spitefull.
Where is the evidence of an Accelerant?
What time of the day did this occur?, Do you know what day it is?, would be the questions I would be asking of the Fire Marshall.
Arson is a very tough call and one that I would not use as a Fire Officer, until such time as a decent investigation had been performed, as in this case though, it doesn't sound like this has been done.
Just as a final note, where I can't find the cause of a fire, I usually get other people in to have a look as well, for thier opinion, I'm all for honest decisions on fire causes, especially where it concerns Insurance claims, either way!.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#46533 - 12/26/04 08:14 AM Re: Accidental Arson.... Hmmm
DougW Offline

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
Originally posted by NJ Wireman:

12 years firefighting never heard of such a thing. its either a accident or its arson

Right with you on that one. It's intentional, accidental, or negligence. Insurance pays for the last two...

This feeble 'determination' by the Fire Marshal sounds like, at best, a personal grudge gone wrong. By your mention of electrical work, did this FM/AHJ have it out for your friend... maybe over a past inspection?

It's up to the insurance company's claim adjuster. Very rarely do they completely rely on the AHJ for a C&O determination. Ususally they will meet with the investigator, and comapre notes, but it's up to the insurer to make a "pay or not" call.

I'd tell your friend to contact his insurance company and explain the situation... also, call the Office of the State Fire Marshal, and request an "independent" investigator. You might also try - the International Association of Arson Investigators, and see if they can connect your freind to an independent, professional investigator for a "second opinion" to counter this mope.

Anyone remember "Fire Marshal Bill" on the old "In Living Color" show? This sounds like him, in person...

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