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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Contact: Gerod King, ATF Public Information Officer

ATF National Response Team Concludes Investigation of the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce Fire

Cause of the Fire Determined to be Accidental

BEAUFORT, S.C. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team and the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department today announced the preliminary findings in the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce fire that occurred on Nov. 12, 2016. While components of the investigation will continue, the investigative entities have determined that the fire was accidental.

ATF's NRT arrived on-scene at 711 Bladen St. on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 to assist the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the City of Beaufort Police Department and the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office in the investigation. The NRT’s primary mission is to concentrate ATF explosives and fire investigative resources and expertise on large scale incidents and investigations. The NRT provides an immediate and sustained nationwide response capability, typically deploying within 24 hours of notification, with state-of-the-art equipment and the most qualified ATF personnel.

"ATF partners with state and local agencies to combine resources and bring in additional expertise to these complex investigations," said ATF Charlotte Field Division’s Special Agent in Charge C.J. Hyman. "We are fortunate to have come to a determination in this case and appreciate the collaborative effort from all the partners involved."

The NRT is composed of veteran special agents who have post-blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise, forensic chemists, explosives enforcement officers, electrical engineers, 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 seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the bombing/arson.

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 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.

More information on ATF and the National Response Team can be found at


Charlotte Field Division