Although electrical fires constitute the greatest percentage of the main causes of building fires, the critical evidence used by fire investigators to identify electrical fires is not always convincing to the general public. In this study, we scrutinized the microstructures of fire-causing copper wires and simulated the external environmental conditions required for the formation of fire-causing arc beads. Our metallographic investigation revealed that the primary thermal dendrites of copper at the fire-causing arc bead grew parallel to one another, but in the opposite direction to the heat flow. We determined the relationships of the undercooling (∆T0
), the growth velocity (ν), and the primary spacing (λ) of the dendrites with respect to the electrical wire’s diameter. Accordingly, fire investigators can now identify fire-causing arc beads in terms of these metallographic characteristics, thereby providing clear scientific evidence for litigant judgments of electrical fires.
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