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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
ATF National Response Team Activated To Investigate Howard Johnson Inn Fire
OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. – Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) along with ATF
special agents from the Gulfport Field Office have been activated by request
from the Fort Bayou Volunteer Fire Department, the Mississippi State Fire
Marshal’s Office and the Jackson County Fire Department to investigate the Oct.
17 fire at the Howard Johnson Inn, located at 7412 Tucker Road, in Ocean
Springs, Miss. The NRT will arrive today to conduct an assessment of the fire
scene and formulate an investigative plan with state and local investigators.
The fire scene consists of a three story buildings with a
combined area of approximately 30,000 square feet. The roof of the buildings
was destroyed but no deaths or injuries were reported.
ATF is investigating the fire jointly with the Mississippi
State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Fort Bayou Volunteer Fire Department and the
Jackson County Sheriff’s Department. “We will work together in partnership to
determine the origin and cause of this fire”, said Joel Lee, ATF Resident Agent
in Charge of the ATF Gulfport Field Office. He estimates total loss of the
business to be approximately $4 million.
In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to investigate in
partnership with federal, state and local investigators in meeting the
challenges faced at the scenes of significant arson and explosives incidents.
The NRT consists of one team administratively organized into three geographic
regions to cover the United States. Each team can respond within 24 hours to
work jointly with state and local law enforcement/fire service personnel in
The responding NRT component typically has 20 members,
including veteran special agents who have post blast and fire origin-and-cause
expertise; forensic chemists; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection
engineers; accelerant detection canines; intelligence support, computer
forensic support and forensic audit support. The 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 the bombing/arson. In addition to investigating
hundreds of large fire and explosives scenes, the NRT has also been activated
to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City Murray
Federal Building bombing and the 9/11 Pentagon crash site, as well as
explosions at explosives and ammunition manufacturing operations. The NRT is
also deployed to support the safety and security at the Olympics and other
major sporting events in the United States; presidential inaugurations and
national political conventions; and major international conferences.
This is the 737th activation of the NRT and first in
fiscal year 2013.