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Forensic academy students investigate arson fire

LOWER PAXTON TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. - Students learning what it takes to be in law enforcement. The Lower Paxton Township Police Department holds their high school forensic's academy.

A fire was intentionally set on a makeshift burn room at the Dauphin County Vo-Tech. As the fire burned, students in the academy watched, waiting to take what they learned in the classroom on arson investigations and apply it to this real life setting.

The students gathered information from the "homeowner," and collected evidence from the scene, working to piece together what happened and how this fire started. Many of these students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. Getting the hands-on experience makes them even more sure of it.

"It was so much more fun that I though it was going to be," said Eleanor Haugsby, a student in the academy. "I thought we were just going to sit in the classroom, not do the real world experience, but we really did. That kind of made it a turning point for me."

This is the second year of the program led by the Lower Paxton Township Police Cpl. Walt Cook. He says, most of the kids come in with the idea of what a forensic scientists does because of TV shows, but this camp helps give them the real-world understanding of what the job entails.

"They're sponges, they pick up on everything we're giving them," said Cpl. Cook. "And sometimes you think they're not paying attention but they get it."

As for how the kids did with their arson investigation, they successfully determined the fire started with gasoline by the chair.