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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Contact: Public Affairs Division

ATF International Response Team to Investigate Las Cascadas Mall Fire in El Salvador

WASHINGTON – At the request of the Office of the Attorney General of El Salvador, the International Response Team (IRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will arrive in El Salvador today to provide support in the investigation of the cause and origin of the Las Cascadas Mall fire.

The ATF team will arrive in El Salvador today and begin reconstructing the scene, identifying the origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the cause of the blaze. The team will work in close coordination with the Salvadoran Attorney General, the Fire Department and the police.

The ATF IRT is composed of veteran special agents who have post blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection and electrical engineers, accelerant detection canines, explosives detection canines, intelligence support, computer forensic support and forensic audit support. Each team assembled and deployed is designed to best accommodate the specific incident.

This activation is the 36th call-out for the ATF IRT since its inception in 1978, and the first call-out for 2015. The IRT travels abroad to investigate large-vehicle bombings, provide technical support in the disassembly of improvised explosive devices, and to provide investigative oversight in large-scale fires that result in massive loss of life and property loss estimated in the millions of dollars.

Past ATF IRT activations include a prison fire in Comayagua, Honduras, which killed more than 350 inmates in 2012 and an Albanian ammunition depot explosion in April 2008 that killed 26 people, wounded approximately 400 others, and destroyed or damaged more than 4,000 homes and businesses.

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