manner of death in a fire


Although this is a matter for others (i.e. the coroner and the courts), the pathologist may be asked their opinion.


Many house fires will be accidentally started e.g. by carelessly discarded smoking materials, smoking in bed or attempting to cook etc whilst intoxicated. The pathologist should always consider whether there is any reason to suspect that the fire was started by a third party – to kill the deceased or another person, to conceal homicide or to destroy property.


Self-immolation is uncommon, and usually involves the use of an accelerant.


picture credit: Malcom Browne


Bodies recovered from burning vehicles are rarely due to accidents (unless they have burned as a result of a  collision), and may represent suicide or homicide.

accidental fires in the home


Accidental fires in homes are commonly caused by electrical installation problems

Source: Dumb ways to die (Metro Trains Melbourne public safety campaign 2012)

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