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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Contact: Special Agent & PIO Charlene Hennessy

ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate 4-Alarm Fire in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with members of the ATF Philadelphia Arson and Explosives Task Force were activated to assist with the investigation into the 4-alarm fire that occurred at the Thrifty Irishman Thrift Store, located at 2226 East Butler Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

On April 7, 2019, at approximately 7:20 PM, the Philadelphia Fire Department responded to a commercial structure fire at the Thrifty Irishman Thrift Store, located at 2226 East Butler Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The fire quickly progressed to four alarms and completely destroyed the building, causing an estimated $1.8 million dollars in damage. Investigators from the ATF Arson and Explosives Task Force, consisting of ATF, Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, and Philadelphia Police Department personnel, responded to conduct the fire investigation.

On April 8, 2019, an NRT member from the Philadelphia Field Division responded to the scene to assist with the investigation.  After conducting an assessment of the fire scene, considering the size of the building, amount of fire damage and safety concerns, the NRT was requested to assist with the origin and cause investigation.   

ATF’s ongoing investigation is being coordinated with the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments.

“ATF is committed to working with our partners at the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office and the Philadelphia Police and Fire Departments by adding our expertise and resources to the investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson, ATF Philadelphia Field Division.

NRT Background

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 fires, 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 extensive post-blast and fire origin and cause expertise; forensic chemists; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection engineers; accelerant detection canines; electrical engineers; 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 fire/bombing/arson.

Further complementing the team’s technical efforts is a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.

Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has deployed 842 times. This is the eleventh activation for Fiscal Year 2019, which began on October 1, 2018.

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 September 11, 2001, Pentagon crash site as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

More information on ATF’s National Response Team can be found at:


Anyone having information regarding this fire should call the ATF Philadelphia Field Office at (215) 446-7800, ATF 24/7 hotline at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473), email: (link sends e-mail) or submit a tip anonymously by using the ReportIt App on your mobile phone.



Philadelphia Field Division