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Friday, August 12, 2016

ATF NRT Concludes West Virginia Fire Investigation



UNION, W.Va. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Union Community Volunteer Fire Department announced the preliminary findings in the Small Equipment Services, LLC fire.  The investigative entities have deemed the status of this incident as accidental.  

The Small Equipment Services, LLC fire occurred on Aug. 6.  The location was a commercial chainsaw and lawn mower retail and repair business. 

The ATF National Response Team (NRT), led by Team Supervisor Steve Cordle arrived on-scene, and began the investigation Tuesday, Aug. 9.

The NRT, along with ATF special agents from the Louisville Field Division responded and worked the investigation with the West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Union Community Volunteer Fire Department.     

“Investigating a fire of this size is truly a team effort,” said ATF Louisville Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael J. O’Neil.  “We appreciate the dedication of our state and local partners who worked tirelessly to thoroughly investigate this fire to determine its origin and cause.”

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 explosives and arson incidents.  The NRT consists of three 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.

The teams are each composed of veteran special agents who have post-blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, electrical engineers, fire protection engineers, accelerant detection canines, explosives detection canines, intelligence support, computer forensic support, and 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.

Further complementing the teams’ efforts are technical, legal, and intelligence advisers.  Moreover, a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.
          
In addition to investigating hundreds of 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, West Texas explosion, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

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