Dogs vital in helping officials determine causes of large fires

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ELMWOOD PARK -

As investigators work to determine what caused the massive fire at the Marcal Paper Mill, News 12 New Jersey was given a look at how the canine team at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives uses dogs to determine the cause of such a large fire.

The fire at the paper mill destroyed the 425,000-square-foot building, reducing it to rubble. ATF dogs can help determine where and how fires like this one started.

Officials with the agency tell News 12 that the dogs go over the area looking for possible accelerants, and indicate where samples should be taken.

RELATED: Job fair held for Marcal employees who lost jobs in fire 

“Once he indicates that an accelerant is present…he will do what’s called a ‘change in behavior.’ So he might look at me, or go to sit down or lift his head up,” says Joseph Battaglia.

“The next command I give him is ‘show me,’ so what he can do is actually search and give me a pinpoint within 3 inches of exactly where he found it,” he says.


Those samples are taken back to the lab for testing.

Dogs from the ATF, the state fire marshal, and the Bergen County Sheriff's Office are all part of the national response team brought in to assist with the investigation into the fire at Marcal.

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