For Immediate Release
ATF National Response Team Investigating Reservation Fire
DENVER, Colo. — A specialized fire investigation team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating a fire at a historic mission in Fort Washakie that served as a school and boarding house for Shoshone girls more than a century ago.
About 15 special agents and experts with the National Response Team, as well as agents from the Denver Field Division and Cheyenne Field Office, were activated at the request of local authorities to jointly investigate a fire that destroyed the Shoshone-Episcopal Mission at 189 Trout Creek Road, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, within the Wind River Reservation, March 17. The historic mission was founded in 1889 and was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
While at the site, certified fire investigators and other experts will work with local investigators to sift through debris, reconstruct the scene, collect evidence and provide cause and origin to the Fremont Country Fire Protection District, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Wyoming State Fire Marshall and the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations in support of their investigation.
ATF has lead federal jurisdiction for investigating fires and arson in the U.S. and its territories. The primary mission of the NRT is to concentrate ATF explosives and fire investigative resources and expertise on large-scale and complex incidents due to the size, scope or number of victims. The NRT provides an immediate and sustained nationwide response, typically deploying within 24 hours of notification, with state-of-the-art equipment and the most qualified ATF personnel available. The NRT also has an international equivalent that can be deployed worldwide to support major investigations at the request of the U.S. Department of State.
The NRT is composed of 123 full- and part-time 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.
Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has deployed 787 times. This is the 15th NRT call-out since Oct. 1. Another team is currently investigating a fire at a 65,000-square-foot mink processing facility in Arlington, South Dakota. NRT also recently completed investigations of a flea market fire in Chicago and a hotel development fire in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
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.
For more information on ATF and its programs go to www.atf.gov.
Photo cutlines (photos also attached): Local fire departments extinguish the flames at the Shoshone-Episcopal Mission the morning of March 17. ATF’s National Response Team is investigating the cause and origin of the fire this week. (Courtesy of ATF)