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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

St. Paul Field Division

For Immediate Release

Monday, March 14, 2016
Contact: Special Agent Martin Siebenaler

ATF National Response Team Deploys to Arlington, S.D., Fire Investigation

ARLINGTON, S.D. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) arrived Saturday, March 12 to investigate the fire scene at Top Lot Processors, located at 702 North Industrial Ave., Arlington, S.D. 57212.
 
The fire occurred at 2:20 a.m., on Thursday, March 10.  There were no injuries resulting from the fire.  Top Lot Processors is a mink processing facility of approximately 65,000 square feet.  The loss due to fire is estimated at approximately $5 million.  The South Dakota State Fire Marshall (SFM) and South Dakota Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) requested assistance from ATF in conjunction with local authorities.
 
On this same date, certified fire investigators and agents from the ATF St. Paul Field Division responded to the scene, and approximately two dozen special agents and specialists with the NRT were activated to lend specialized expertise to the investigation.  The South Dakota SFM’s office, South Dakota DCI, Arlington Volunteer Fire Department and the Kingsbury County Sheriff’s Office are also assisting in the investigation.

“ATF and our state and local partners will work together to determine the origin and cause of this fire,” said Special Agent in Charge James C. Modzelewski, of the St. Paul Field Division.  This is the 13th activation of the NRT in fiscal year 2016, and the 786th activation since the inception of the team in 1978.
 
The primary mission of the NRT is to concentrate ATF explosives and fire investigative resources and expertise on large scale incidents, or on more complex investigations due to the size, scope, or number of victims as a result of the incident. 

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 available.  The NRT’s resources include a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States that allow the NRT to be self-contained for the forensic examination of explosives and arson.

The NRT works in conjunction with other investigators to reconstruct the scene, identify the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, and determine the cause.  In the case of bombings and arsons, NRT members gather evidence to support criminal prosecutions.  A deployed team is generally broken down into two components: a group that processes the scene and an investigative-lead element.  In the course of the overall investigation, both components coordinate daily to ensure investigative continuity.

The NRT is composed of veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists, certified fire investigators, forensic mapping specialists, accelerant and explosives detection canine teams, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, electrical engineers and forensic chemists.

Past NRT activations include such incidents as an explosion in West Texas that killed 14 people in 2013; the spree of 10 arsons at churches in Texas in 2010; a commercial fire in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine firefighters in 2007; and national-level incidents such as the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon; the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta; the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson.  More information on ATF can be found at http://www.atf.gov/.

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Field Division: St. Paul Field Division