The Gazette in Colorado Springs has two interesting articles about investigating the cause and origin of wildfires and how thoughts of pyroterrorism have occurred to some folks in the state. No knowledgeable person as far as we know is saying the numerous suspicious fires that have occurred in the front range over the last two years are related to pyroterrorism. However, the 25 Teller County fires in June, 2012, combined with the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon fires that together destroyed about 850 homes and caused several fatalities, has fire investigators and detectives on edge, not ruling anything out.
Below is an excerpt from the second article, about pyroterrorism (which also quoted Dick Mangan, former President of the International Association of Wildland Fire):
…Investigators searching for the cause of a wildfire essentially work backwards, said Bill Gabbert, managing editor of Wildfire Today.
“You have to look for the direction of the spread to see which way the fire is moving,” he said. “So you have to work backwards.”
The quicker the response, the easier it is to find the point of origin because it decreases the area investigators must peruse.
Once the point of origin is located, investigators must determine what started the fire, which, depending on the igniter, “can be fairly easy or hard.”
“If they use a lighter and put it back in their pocket, it’s hard,” he said.
But arsonists also use devices that are left at the scene, sometimes something as tiny as a match.
“If you’re lucky, you can find the match,” Gabbert said. “Even if it’s charred, it helps.”