Arson 101: Prosecutors feel the heat

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HOUSTON - It's not your typical classroom setting. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Houston Field Division and the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office are teaching prosecutors from all over the country what arson is all about. The best way to do that, of course, is to light stuff on fire. Wednesday's lesson consisted of a live demo of an apartment fire.

"What we're trying to do is to teach the prosecutors through the science aspect of fire dynamics just how violent it truly is," said Eric Evers, a certified fire investigator with the ATF. "Some of this class is also teaching them legal techniques on how to marry-up the legal aspects with the forensic science aspects."

The ATF set up a mock apartment room with various items in it, and set it ablaze, giving prosecutors a first-hand look at the destruction.

"I actually saw how quickly the fire can consume an apartment after it reaches a certain point," said Michael Ebell, an assistant D.A. who flew in from Anchorage, Alaska. "You could feel that heat. It was really impressive."

The prosecutors who take this course have a message for arsonists: mess with us, and you're going to get burned.

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