ATF seal
ATF text
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

For Immediate Release

Thursday, August 6, 2020
Contact: Ashlee J. L. Sherrill

ATF NRT Activated for St. Paul Hotel Fire Investigation

SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Members of the National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, arrived on scene in downtown St. Paul today to begin working with local and state partners to investigate a recent fire at a hotel construction site.

The St. Paul Fire Department responded to a fire early Tuesday morning at the construction site near the West 7th Street and Kellogg Boulevard intersection, across from the Xcel Energy Center. The development included a hotel and an apartment complex. Initial assessments found that the hotel sustained the majority of the damage. The apartment complex under construction in the same development sustained minimal damage in comparison.

“Based on the size of the building, amount of fire damage and number of investigative leads, the St. Paul Fire Department and our local ATF office requested the assistance of ATF’s National Response Team,” said Special Agent in Charge Terry Henderson, of the St. Paul Field Division. “The National Response Team is a tremendous asset and brings a wealth of knowledge and resources to assist local police and fire departments in large-scale fire investigations.”

“The extra personnel will help move this investigation along more quickly,” Henderson continued. “Our goal here is to assist with this fire investigation, alongside the St. Paul Fire Department, St. Paul Police Department and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division, bringing the investigation to a successful conclusion.”

This is the fifth National Response Team call-out to the State of Minnesota this year. Nationwide, this marks the 15th activation in 2020 and 862nd callout since the inception of the program in 1978. In Minnesota, the team supported more than 150 arson investigations in the Twin Cities after a period of unrest earlier this summer, many of which remain under investigation. The team also activated in January to support the Press Bar and Parlor fire investigation in St. Cloud and in February to support a behavioral health clinic fire investigation in Grand Rapids. Prior to that, the National Response Team had not been in Minnesota since 2004.

In 1978, ATF developed the National Response Team to bring its expertise to local, state and federal investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosions and fire incidents at no cost to the state or locals. The National Response Team 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 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 U.S. is available to provide logistical support.

In addition to investigating hundreds of scenes, the National Response Team has 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 Follow @ATFHQ and @ATFStPaul on Twitter for updates regarding this activation.


St. Paul Field Division