Sniffing Out Arsonists Is Tulsa Fire Investigator's Only Job

Wednesday, May 6th 2015, 11:54 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa Fire investigators have a very special tool to track down arsonists. That tool is an arson dog named Canyon and he helps the fire department find who or what started a fire. 

The damage from a fire can be devastating--from homes lost to businesses destroyed. Tuesday, there were two fires, Teeter Sweepers near 11th and Utica and a duplex in east Tulsa. 

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Tulsa Fire Investigator Scott Winford believes arsonists set both.

"We notice it kind of cycles, we will go a few weeks without an incendiary fire and then we will go a couple weeks with numerous fires," said Tulsa firefighter Scott Winford. 

Winford was called to investigate both fires along side another ATF investigator who has a better sense of smell than any other investigator in Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma. Canyon is a certified accelerant detection canine, who can sniff out any kind of accelerant, like gasoline or paint thinner. 

"They can smell about a thousand times better than we can, so there's no way we could go in and use our nose to identify the location of an ignitable liquid," said Scott Winford. 

Winford says the Teeter Sweepers fire wasn't started by an accelerant, so Canyon didn't go inside to investigate this fire. But he did an exercise with him outside to show us how it works. If Canyon finds an accelerant, he's rewarded with a treat.

"He's trained to not only search buildings, but vehicles, but people tools and objects," said Scott Winford. 

Canyon doesn't just find--what started the fire, he could also sniff out an arsonist in a crowd-- if there is accelerant on his body. 

"He loves it, anytime he sees my food pouch go on my side, he gets excited he starts to salivate. He is usually very excited to go to work," said Stan Winford. 

Winford says he enjoys the company too and knows having the only ATF certified arson dog in the state is an asset to the community. 

This is National Arson Awareness week and firefighters say everyone in the community can help catch them, by staying alert and always reporting suspicious activity.