Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Houston Field Division
At The Frontline Against Violent Crime
For Immediate Release
July 5, 2010
Contact: Franceska Perot, Ph.D.
ATF Special Agent, PIO
(281) 372-2908 (office)
ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate Fatal Egg Farm Fire
BOLING, TX — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with ATF Special Agents from the Houston Field Division have been activated by a request from the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office to investigate a fire at the Maxim Egg Farm on 3307 FM 442, Boling, Texas. The fire which occurred late Saturday night, July 3, 2010 killed one firefighter and injured two others from the Wharton County Volunteer Fire Department during the suppression efforts. The team of two dozen agents and specialists arrived yesterday and will start the scene investigation this morning.
ATF is investigating this tragic fire jointly with the Wharton County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office. We will work together in partnership to determine the origin and cause of this fatal fire, said Dewey Webb, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Division. The total loss of the Maxim Farm is estimated by the investigators to be $5 – 10 million. This is the 19th activation of the NRT in fiscal year 2010, and the 701st activation since the inception of the team in 1978.
Other activations of the NRT in the Texas include the midrise fatality fire in Houston in March 2007, the Governor’s Mansion in Austin in June 2008, the Gallery Furniture fire in Houston in May 2009, the Church fires in Tyler and Temple in January and February of 2010 and the used clothes warehouse fire in Laredo in June 2010.
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 three teams organized geographically 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 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 Murrah Federal Building bombing and the 9/11 Pentagon crash site, as well as explosions at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.
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. 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 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.