Drones, dogs used in suspicious 7th Ward fire investigation

Drones, dogs used in suspicious 7th Ward fire investigation

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Investigators are teaching old dogs new tricks as they confirm that an accelerant ignited two suspicious fires Thursday night in the Seventh Ward.

New Orleans fire crews, state fire marshals and ATF agents combed through the rubble Friday. Six homes were damaged in the two separate fires. Four vacant homes were completely destroyed.

Investigators are calling the fires - one on Marigny Street and the other on N. Derbigny - suspicious because of their close proximity. They were started about an hour apart.

"We always want to make sure we get to the bottom of every fire that we have," Superintendent Tim McConnell said. "We like to find the cause of every one, and if someone is responsible for starting a malicious fire, we'd like to find them and put them in jail."

An accelerant-sniffing dog alerted on samples at both locations, and the samples were sent to the crime lab to determine the cause of both fires.

"We collect samples that will be sent to a laboratory, and that's not a good sign. When we get that, it will probably come back as a positive, and we'll have to go from there," McConnell said.

Fire marshals are using drones to find exactly the fires started, giving inspectors a unique vantage point.

"It provides that bird's-eye view, which is necessary in this day where jurors demand the most available technology, to bring back what happened here in the eventuality that a defendant has to answer for his actions," Deputy Trevor Santos said.

For eight months, investigators have used the drones, which aid in investigations across the state.

No one was injured in the fires Thursday night.

At this time, investigators say there is nothing that points them in the direction of a serial arsonist.