For Immediate Release
ATF NRT Activated to Join St. Cloud Fire Investigation
SAINT CLOUD, Minn. — The National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived on-scene at the Press Bar and Parlor in St. Cloud today, Feb.22, to join local and state investigators to determine the origin and cause of the fire that completely destroyed the more than 100-year-old building.
The St. Cloud Fire Department responded to the fire in the early morning hours Monday, Feb. 17, working to protect the neighboring structures and extinguish the flames. According to the St. Cloud Fire Department, the two-story building is a complete loss resulting in over $1,000,000 in damage.
Based on the size of the building and amount of damage, the St. Cloud Fire Department and the ATF St. Paul Field Division requested assistance of the NRT. The team will work with the St. Cloud Fire Department, the St. Cloud Police Department and Minnesota Department of Public Safety, State Fire Marshal’s Office, in investigating the origin and cause of the blaze.
“ATF’s involvement in this investigation is strictly as a support role,” said Special Agent in Charge William Terry Henderson, of the Saint Paul Field Division. “This was a large fire and the extra personnel will help move this investigation along more quickly. We have nearly 25 ATF national response team members activated for this investigation in addition to our local team of special agents.”
“We approach each investigation with a goal to uncover the origin and cause of each fire,” Henderson said. “Once we’ve collectively made a determination, we will share that information.”
The NRT’s operations will disrupt the area surrounding the fire scene while the investigation continues.
“The investigation will require that the 10 block of 5th Ave South be closed to vehicle traffic with limited pedestrian traffic on the south end of the block,” said Fire Chief Dean Wrobbel, St. Cloud Fire Department. It is not known at this time how long the closure will be necessary.”
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 three 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 origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the fire.
Further complementing the teams’ efforts are technical, legal, and intelligence advisers. Moreover, a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.
This is the sixth NRT activation this fiscal year and the 853rd activation since the inception of the NRT in 1978. The NRT was last in Minnesota in January 2004 at the Club Metro Building in St. Paul.
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 www.atf.gov and follow @ATFHQ and @ATFStPaul on Twitter.