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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Philadelphia Field Division

For Immediate Release

Friday, March 23, 2018
Contact: Charlene Hennessy

ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate York, PA Fire Involving Firefighter Fatalities

PHILADELPHIA – The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been activated, along with Special Agents from the ATF Philadelphia Field Division, and ATF Harrisburg Field Office, to respond to the fire that occurred at 127 N. Broad St., in York, Pennsylvania, the site of the former Weaver Piano & Organ Co.  The fire occurred during the evening of Wednesday, March 21, 2018.  Members of the York Fire Department were still conducting firefighting operations on March 22, when the structure collapsed, trapping four York Fire Department personnel.  Firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony subsequently died as a result of their injuries.  Two additional firefighters were injured and transported to York Hospital.

 

Members of the ATF Harrisburg Field Office responded to the fire scene to assist with the investigation.  After meeting with the York Fire and Police Departments, additional resources were requested from the NRT.  NRT members are arriving on scene today to assist with the investigation.  The NRT will integrate with our partners to process the fire scene, conduct interviews, and provide digital mapping in an effort to provide a forensic blueprint of the scene.  All of these efforts will be in support of our attempt to determine the origin and cause of the fire, and provide some answers to the victims’ families and fire department.   

 

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

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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 fire and explosion incidents. The NRT consists of three teams organized geographically to cover the United States.  Each team is capable of responding within 24 hours to work with 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 investigators 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 or explosion.

 

Further complementing the team’s technical efforts is a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States to provide logistical support.  Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has deployed 825 times. This is the tenth activation for Fiscal Year 2018, which began on October 1, 2017 and the third 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 crash sites.  Most recently, the NRT was activated for the Austin bombing spree, and provided the full complement of NRT resources during the course of that joint federal, state and local investigation.   

 

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.

 

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Field Division: Philadelphia Field Division