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Second fire expert contradicts prosecution’s case against Daniel Dougherty

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A second fire science expert hired by the defense in the Daniel Dougherty arson murder trial has contradicted the official fire department finding. Prosecutors allege an intentionally set fire killed his two young boys in 1985.

Fire scientist Craig Beyler walked jurors through the National Fire Protection Association Guide — NFPA-921 for short. He says the now more than 400-page book was developed in the 1980s and ’90s to debunk myths and folklore of fire investigation. After reviewing evidence, including 120 fire scene photos, witness interviews, and the Fire Department’s response, Beyler maintains the cause should have been undetermined.

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Beyler says during a full-room involvement, everything burns in various intensities between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees, which has a major impact on burn patterns. He says it all depends on ventilation like windows and doors, and fuel packages like furniture. Beyler says full-room involvement is evident in accidental fires in which one source starts a blaze. 

A prosecution witness, a former Philadelphia fire marshal, previously testified that he confirmed the 1985 blaze that killed 3- and 4-year-old brothers was started in three places, the sofa, loveseat, and under the dining room table.

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