Virgil, 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!.
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 http://www.firearson.com - 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...