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How Fires Start by William A. Lotz, P.E. Frankly I don't like fires and never the wood shelf on fire, the paints "go to one" for entertainment. exploded and the fire caught on to the Insurance companies occasionally ask adjacent stairwell. (Note: In the our firm to determine the cause of a living room a woodstove was in direct fire. Usually, they are unsure of the contact with plywood wall paneling. cause or think someone can be sued This probably would have caused a fire for negligence. at some point in the future.) Not the Wood Stove There are four principles for investigating fires: 1. Get there before the debris has been disturbed. 2.