Thermal imaging cameras could help find origin of Ghost Ship fire

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The ATF used a thermal imaging tool to try and determine the origin of the deadly Ghost Ship fire. Here's how it works. (KGO-TV)

One of the tools the ATF used immediately after the deadly Ghost Ship fire was put out is a thermal imaging camera. The equipment is used to try and determine the origin of the fire and thus the cause.

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The Ghost Ship fire moved quickly furiously. The flames were so intense that it wasn't long before the roof and second floor collapsed. Dr. Abid Kamel is a world renowned expert in the analysis and investigation of fires and explosions.

"There's a collapse of roof, a lot of three dimensional objects become more or less two dimensional," said Kamel. "Two dimensional."

In the immediate aftermath, the fire investigation becomes even more challenging.

They're looking for indications of how intense the fire was, which direction it was moving and that helps them locate the origin. That's when ATF and other investigators use tools like a thermal imaging camera.

The mission for investigators is to look for the origin of the fire, then you can look for the cause. Regular images don't show the color associated with heat that thermal images do. The camera picks up heat in places you can't see.

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Anything that's warm or hot is emitting energy in the infrared spectrum. You can't see it with your naked eye, but you can with a thermal imaging camera.
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