For Immediate Release
ATF NRT Joins Germantown Apartments Fire Investigation
CONWAY, Ark. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced that the National Response Team (NRT), who arrived on scene yesterday, will begin processing the site of a fire at the Germantown Apartments today.
At approximately 4:22 a.m., on Feb. 27, the Conway Fire Department responded to the fire located at 955 South German Lane in in Conway, Ark. Based on the size of the scene and the federal violations noted during the preliminary investigation, the Arkansas State Police Fire Marshal's Office requested ATF’s NRT in the investigation of the fire and scene documentation. Special Agent Drew Sheldrick is the NRT team leader.
The damage is estimated at $1,000,000. Several individuals were injured. Prior to the fire, a resident made threats that he was going to burn the building down. Local authorities recovered a destructive device from the apartment belonging to the individual who made the threats. The suspect is in custody, and local authorities are continuing the investigation.
Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Constance Hester of the New Orleans Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) said ATF has joined the investigation with the Arkansas State Police and the Conway Fire Department. “ATF’s NRT was activated at the request of our state and local partners, and we have fully committed our fire resources to thoroughly examine the origin and cause of the fire,” she said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and those displaced by this fire. The community has suffered a great loss due to this devastating incident,” said SAC Hester.
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 teams work alongside state and local investigators in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conduction interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the incident.
In addition to investigating hundreds of scenes, the NRT has investigated 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.
This is the 10th NRT Activation this fiscal year and the 807th activation since the inception of the NRT in 1978.
ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information on ATF go to www.atf.gov.