NEWARK — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced that its National Response Team (NRT) has joined the investigation into the church and apartment fires on Summit Avenue in Union City, N.J., that resulted in one fatality and severely damaged the Saints Joseph and Michael Parish and two apartment complexes March 4.
On March 5, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Union City Police Department and the New Jersey State Fire Marshals Office requested assistance from the NRT. Over the next several days, certified fire investigators and special agents from the ATF Newark Field Division and other experts will work alongside state and local investigators to sift through debris, reconstruct the scene, collect evidence, conduct interviews and attempt to identify an origin and cause of the fire.
“The ATF Newark Field Division is committed to working with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Union City Police Department and the New Jersey State Fire Marshals Office by adding our expertise and resources to this investigation,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Scott C. Curley, ATF Newark Field Division.
The NRT is composed of veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists, certified fire investigators, forensic mapping specialists, accelerant and explosives detection canine teams, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, electrical engineers and forensic chemists.
ATF is the sole federal agency with experience and resources to investigate fires and crimes of arson in the United States and its territories. The primary mission of the NRT is to concentrate ATF explosives and fire investigative resources and expertise on large-scale and complex incidents due to the size, scope or number of victims.
The NRT’s resources include a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States that allow the NRT to be self-contained for the forensic examination of explosives and fire scenes.
Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has deployed 809 times. The NRT has deployed 12 times in fiscal year 2017, which began Oct. 1, 2016.