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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

News Release

Columbus Field Division

For Immediate Release

Friday, May 22, 2015
Contact: PIO Suzanne Dabkowski

ATF NRT Arrives to Investigate Warehouse Fire

CLEVELAND — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) joined the investigation into the fire at the Truly Blessed trucking company. The fire started just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 19, 2015.

The team, led by NRT Supervisor Steven Cordle, arrived and received a team briefing yesterday, and began the on-scene investigation today.

The NRT, along with ATF special agents from the Columbus Field Division responded with Ohio State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Cleveland Fire Department, and the Cleveland Division of Police.

“ATF has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in investigating the cause and origin of fires,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Soranno of the Columbus Field Division. “We bring a unique set of skills to the scene to assist our state and local partners.”

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 explosives 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 onsite 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.

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 12th NRT activation in fiscal year 2015 and the 769th since its inception.

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, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

Most recently, in April, 2015, ATF’s NRT responded to Baltimore after the riots to reconstruct each scene, identify the origin of the fires, determine the cause and gather evidence to support federal criminal prosecutions related to the building and vehicle fires. In November 2014, local departments in Ferguson, Mo., requested ATF NRT due to the numerous leads that needed to be covered concerning the fires.

More information on ATF can be found at www.atf.gov

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Field Division: Columbus Field Division