For Immediate Release
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Contact: Supervisory SA Kevin Moran, Public Information Officer, ATF
ATF NRT Activated in Joint Fire Investigation of a Large Commercial Complex
Field Division: New Orleans Field Division
NEW ORLEANS — Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Dana Nichols of the New Orleans Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), today announced the activation of ATF’s National Response Team (NRT) to join the investigation of an Apr. 23 large commercial complex fire located at 3534 Toulouse Street, New Orleans, La. The structure covers half a city block and consists of three separate businesses, a furniture liquidator, a T-shirt manufacturer, and a small non-denominational church. Currently, the church is being remodeled and has yet to hold its first service. The fire has caused approximately $1 million in damage. No injuries or deaths associated with the fire. ATF has joined the investigation with the New Orleans Fire Department and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office.
In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to assist federal, state, and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant arson and explosives incidents. The NRT consists of four teams strategically located throughout the United States. Each team can respond within 24 hours to join state and local law enforcement/fire personnel in onsite investigations.
The responding NRT component includes 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 forensic audit support. Further complementing the team’s efforts are technical, legal and intelligence advisors. A fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States provides logistical support.
The NRT work alongside state and local investigators 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 incident.
In addition to investigating hundreds of scenes, the NRT has also 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. Additionally, the NRT has worked the 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. More information on ATF can be found at www.atf.gov.