Colorado Springs fire department gets new tool to help determine cause of fires

The Colorado Springs Fire Department used grant money to purchase two of these hydrocarbon detectors. They'll help investigators determine how fires were started and whether any accelerants were used. / Mike Duran - FOX21 News
The Colorado Springs Fire Department used grant money to purchase two of these hydrocarbon detectors. They'll help investigators determine how fires were started and whether any accelerants were used. / Mike Duran - FOX21 News

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Thanks to more than $1,800 in grants, the Colorado Springs Fire Department will be able to more easily detect how and why fires were started and if any accelerants were used.

The new tools are called hydrocarbon detectors. Thanks to the grant, the fire department now has two in its hands.

So what happens if hydrocarbons are found near a fire scene?

“If they’re present, there is a high probability that a petroleum-based product such as gasoline may be present in a scene,” fire investigator Ralph Mangan said. “There’s also other things like plastic that are also petroleum-based products. So it’s very important for us to be able to take a sample from an area where we suspect there to be an ignitable liquid accelerant and be able to send that off to the lab for further analysis.”

K9s are used for the same purpose, but crews say this new tool will help increase the probability of getting a positive sample sent back to the lab.

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