ATF seal
ATF text
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Philadelphia Field Division

For Immediate Release

Monday, January 8, 2018
Contact: Charlene Hennessy

ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate Fatal Fire Involving Philadelphia Firefighter

PHILADELPHIA – The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with members of the ATF Philadelphia Arson Task Force were activated to respond to the scene of a two-alarm structure fire within a two-story residential rowhouse, located at 2240 North Colorado Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The fire occurred at approximately 8:50 a.m., on January 6, 2018. Members from the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) arrived on scene and recovered one deceased male victim near the front door of the house. During firefighting operations, the second floor of the structure collapsed, trapping PFD Lieutenant Matthew LeTourneau. Lt. LeTourneau subsequently died as a result of his injuries. Two additional firefighters were injured and transported to the hospital.

Members of the ATF Philadelphia Arson Explosives Task Force responded to the fire scene to assist with the investigation. After meeting with the PFD and Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office, additional resources were requested from the NRT. NRT members arrived on scene today to assist with the digital mapping of the residence in an effort to provide a forensic blueprint of the residence. Once the digital mapping of the residence has been completed, officials will then start processing the fire scene to determine the origin and cause. Investigators have not yet had access to the scene dur to instability of the structure and today’s impending winter weather.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Lt. LeTourneau, who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting this fire. We also extend our condolences to the Philadelphia Fire Department which has suffered a great loss," said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson, ATF Philadelphia Field Division.

******

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 819 times. This is the fourth activation for Fiscal Year 2018, which began on October 1, 2017 and the second activation for the Philadelphia Field Division within the last six months.

In addition to investigating hundreds of fire 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 can be found at www.atf.gov.

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

###

Field Division: Philadelphia Field Division