Recovery of Skeletal Remains from Fire Scenes

Fire has the capability to alter, damage, or destroy evidence that is vital to the identification process. A forensic anthropologist at the fire scene will greatly assist the recovery of as much of the body as is possible, and provide additional information relating to identification and trauma.

The forensic anthropologist will work with the forensic archaeologist and fire investigator as part of excavation and recovery, and will be able to advise on:

  • Recognition of human remains from other components of fire debris.
  • Identify what skeletal elements are present and what are missing.
  • Provide an evaluation of identity at the scene if possible prior to post-mortem examination.

How to record, label, bag and transport the remains to minimise further damage. They can also provide further assistance after recovery, such as:

  • Bulk processing and recovery of small fragments from fire debris.
  • Differentiate fire damage from other trauma such as gunshot or knife wounds.
  • Analysis of biological profile and personal identity.