Fire Fatalities Investigation Training

Presented by Forensic Anthropologist Elayne Pope, PhD, the Fire Fatality Investigation training is an in depth look at burn patterns on soft and skeletal tissues as surviving evidence in arson investigations.

The Fatal Fire Investigation Training Course is a scientific approach to how the human body burns in different types of fire scenes (structures, vehicles, confined space, and outdoors) for Law Enforcement, Fire Investigators, and Medicolegal Investigators.

The training is derived from over a decade of experimental burn research with human cadavers in a variety of fire environments that are routinely encountered in forensic casework. The heat-related changes of the human body (burn damage and pugilistic positioning) are presented along with the types of physical evidence that survives for investigators at the fatal fire scene.

Fatal Fire Investigation Training Course Topics:

  • Introduction to normal burn patterns and heat related changes of the body during a fire.
  • Normal heat-related changes for the arms, legs, torso, and head (natural stages of burning to full cremation) and their appearance/condition after the fire.
  • Heat-related changes of preexisting traumatic injury from gunshot wounds, blunt force trauma, and sharp force trauma in burned human remains.
  • Experimental case examples of vehicle fires, structure fires, outdoor fires, the use of ignitable liquids, and criminal attempts to destroy physical evidence of the body.
  • Effects of suppression, post-fire changes to the body, and problems with improper handling of fragile burned human remains/evidence from the scene.
  • Fatal fire scene documentation, evidence handling, the autopsy, and methods of victim identification from bodies that were ‘burned beyond recognition’.



October 4, 2022 – New Orleans, LA


November 8, 2022 – Richardson, TX