GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been activated by request from the Michigan State Police to investigate a fire at the Nelson’s Speed Shop, 4566 South Greenville Road, Greenville, Mich. On June 22, at approximately 1:30 a.m., a fire was reported to the Montcalm Township Fire Department. Montcalm Fire reported heavy flames through the roof of the structure upon arrival. The structure and contents are a total loss, the structure occupies approximately 50,000 square feet and the total estimated loss exceeds $5,000,000.
“ATF will utilize all resources available and necessary to help determine the cause of this fire,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Arron Graves. “Our activation of the NRT speaks to the seriousness of which we hold this fire. ATF along with our partners will work tirelessly to determine the cause of this fire.” This is the 10th activation of the NRT in Fiscal Year 2012 and number 731 since the inception of the team in 1978. The NRT includes 20 team members and arrived on scene today.
ATF is investigating this fire jointly with the Michigan State Police, the Greenville Department of Public Safety, the Montcalm Township Fire Department and the Montcalm County Sheriff Department. In addition to ATF NRT members, ATF is utilizing special agent investigators from the ATF Grand Rapids office as well as special agent’s from the Detroit Field Division.
In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to bring its expertise to federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant arson and explosive incidents. The NRT consists of four teams organized geographically to cover the United States. Each team can respond within 24 hours to assist state and local law enforcement/fire service personnel in onsite investigations.
In addition to investigating hundreds of large fire scenes, the NRT has also been activated to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon crash site, as well as blats at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.
Other local activations of the NRT include the August 2010 fire at the Metro PCS store located on Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, which severely injured seven Detroit Firefighters and the May 2010 Best Textile Services fire in Warren, Mich.
The teams are each composed of veteran special agents who have post blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise; forensic chemists; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection engineers; accelerant detection canines; explosives detection canines; intelligence support; computer forensic support and forensic audit support. These teams work alongside State and local officers in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to bombing/arson incidents.
Further complementing the team’s efforts are technical, legal and intelligence advisors. Moreover, a fleet of fully–equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.
ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information on ATF can be found at www.atf.gov.