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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Newark Field Division

For Immediate Release

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Contact: Walter Kudron

ATF National Response Team Deploys to Fire in Hillsborough, NJ

Newark, N.J.-  The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) was activated today and will lead a joint investigation at the fire that destroyed several warehouse buildings Thursday and Friday.  

The fire was reported at approximately 3:50 pm Thursday afternoon at the Veterans Industrial Center, at 152 Rt. 206 in Hillsborough, NJ.  The complex is owned by the Veterans Administration and leased to a company that subleases the space.  

The total loss of multiple buildings is estimated at several million dollars.  The five-alarm fire was contained and extinguished by more than 30 different fire companies involving more than 200 emergency vehicles.

Personnel on the NRT, as well as Agents from the ATF Newark Field Division are on scene and will lead the investigation along with the Hillsborough Township Fire Marshals, the Hillsborough Township Police Department, the New Jersey State Division of Fire Safety, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

This is the eleventh NRT activation in Fiscal Year 2016 and the 784th since the inception of the NRT in 1978.  The primary mission of the NRT is to provide 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.  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.

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.

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 fire scenes.  

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: Newark Field Division