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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Contact: Ashlee J. L. Sherrill

ATF National Response Team Activated to St. Paul

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Members of the National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, arrived in St. Paul earlier this week to begin working with local, state and federal partners to investigate fires set during the recent unrest in the Twin Cities.

The ATF NRT was requested by and is working alongside the St. Paul Fire Department, St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division on the investigations of approximately 35 business fires in St. Paul.

“The cause of these fires is quite obvious,” said Special Agent in Charge William Henderson, of the St. Paul Field Division. “The task at hand now is to determine who is responsible. ATF’s National Response Team is going to be a tremendous asset. It brings a wealth of knowledge and resources to assist local police and fire departments in large-scale fire investigations.”

In addition to the NRT members who were activated, ATF’s local field division of Special Agents and support staff who normally cover Minnesota and the surrounding states are working to support these investigations.

“The extra personnel will help move these investigations along more quickly,” Henderson continued. “Our goal here is to assist in these fire scene investigations alongside our local, state and federal partners, bringing them all to a successful conclusion.”

This is the third NRT call-out to the State of Minnesota this year. The team responded to the Press Bar and Parlor fire in St. Cloud in January and a behavioral health clinic in Grand Rapids in February. Prior to that, the NRT had not been in Minnesota since 2004.

In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to bring its expertise to local, state and federal investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosions and fire incidents at no cost to the state or locals. 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 on-site investigations.

The teams are each composed of veteran special agents who have post-blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, accelerant detection canines, explosives detection canines, intelligence support, computer forensic support, and audit support. The teams work alongside state and local officers in reconstructing the scene, identifying the origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the fire.

Further complementing the teams’ efforts are technical, legal, and intelligence advisers. Moreover, a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the U.S. is available to provide logistical support.

In addition to investigating hundreds of scenes, the NRT has been activated to scenes such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City federal building bombing and the Sept. 11, 2001, Pentagon crash site, West Texas explosion, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

This is the 11th NRT activation this fiscal year and the 858th activation since the inception of the NRT in 1978.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. For more information about ATF, go to Follow @ATFHQ and @ATFStPaul on Twitter for updates regarding this activation.


St. Paul Field Division