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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Baltimore Field Division

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Contact: Special Agent Matthew Varisco

ATF Activates National Response Team for Warehouse Fire in Baltimore

BALTIMORE - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division requested the activation of ATF’s National Response Team (NRT) to assist and support the Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Baltimore City Fire Department and the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) with the investigation of a 94,000 square foot commercial structure fire, located at Whitehouse and Schapiro, LLC., 1026 E. Patapsco Avenue, which occurred on Sept. 25, 2017. The fire resulted in a total loss of the warehouse space, which was approximately 90% of the structure, and smoke damage to the office space. There have been no injuries reported to date.

“The ATF will make available all of our specialized resources as we work hand-in-hand with our state and local counterparts in Baltimore to help determine the origin and cause of the fire,” said ATF’s Baltimore Field Division Special Agent in Charge Daniel L. Board, Jr.

The primary mission of ATF’s NRT is to concentrate ATF explosives and fire investigative resources and expertise on large-scale incidents, or on more complex investigations due to the size, scope or number of victims as a result of the incident. The NRT provides an immediate and sustained nationwide response capability, typically deploying within 24 hours of notification, with state-of-the-art equipment and the most qualified ATF personnel available.

Agents from ATF’s Baltimore Field Division Arson and Explosives Group have been on scene since the onset of the incident, assisting with the ongoing investigation. The group is comprised of several specialists, to include highly trained special agents who provide technical support, analysis and assistance in fire origin and cause determination for arson investigation called Certified Fire Investigators. They are a field division’s primary resource in fire and arson-related investigations. Additional personnel on-scene include ATF Explosives Enforcement Officers, Certified Explosives Specialists, and an Accelerant/Explosives Detection Canine team. The NRT will supplement ATF’s Baltimore Field Division with additional personnel to include forensic mapping specialists, fire protection engineers, electrical engineers and forensic chemists.

In addition to ATF’s Baltimore Field Division and the NRT, the expertise of ATF’s U.S. Bomb Data Center, Forensic Science Laboratory and Fire Research Laboratory are available to contribute to fire, arson and explosives investigations.

This is the 815th ATF NRT activation since the inception of the program in 1978 and the 19th callout for this fiscal year. The NRT has been on scene for a total of 107 days during the 18 previous callouts this fiscal year.

Past NRT activations in Maryland include incidents such as the 2016 explosion at an apartment complex in Silver Spring which resulted in the death of 7 individuals; the 2015 residential fire at a mansion in Annapolis which resulted in the death of 4 children and their grandparents; and the 2015 fires that were set in the wake of civil unrest throughout the city of Baltimore. National-level activations include the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon, the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York City.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating violent crimes related to arson and explosives. For more information about ATF’s NRT and its capabilities, please visit https://www.atf.gov/resource-center/fact-sheet/fact-sheet-national-and-international-response-team.

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Field Division: Baltimore Field Division