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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Contact: John Ham

ATF NRT Activated to Investigate Plaza Lanes Bowling Alley Fire

Des Moines — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrived on-scene Tuesday to join agents from the Des Moines ATF Office in investigating the fire that destroyed the Plaza Lanes Bowling Alley.
The Des Moines Fire Department responded to bowling alley in the early morning hours of Monday, December 18th and battled the fire for several hours. The structure is a complete loss. The ATF NRT will assist the Des Moines Fire and Police Departments in investigating the origin and cause of the blaze. The Team was last in Des Moines to investigate the Yonkers Building fire.
In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to bring its expertise to federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosions and arson incidents. The NRT consists of four 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 seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the bombing/arson.
This is the third NRT activation this fiscal year and the 815th activation since the inception of the NRT in 1978.
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.
ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. For more information about ATF, go to and follow @ATFHQ on Twitter.
Kansas City Field Division