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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

ATF Press Release

Contact: John Ham
For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 24, 2023

ATF National Response Team To Investigate Buffington Farms Fire

WASHINGTON — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) arrived on-scene Wednesday to join agents from the Cape Girardeau, St. Louis and Fairview Heights ATF Offices in investigating a large fire that destroyed parts of Buffington Farms in Williamsville, Missouri.

In the early morning hours of August 22, the Wayne County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office responded to a large fire on the grounds of Buffington Farms, 415 County Road 417, Williamsville. The fire did extensive damage to structures and equipment, resulting in well over $1 million in damages. ATF special agents and certified fire investigators responded to the scene to provide investigative assistance. Due to the size and scope of the fire scene, Wayne County Sheriff Dean Finch requested ATF’s National Response Team to assist in determining the origin and cause of the fire. Members of the NRT began arriving on scene Wednesday. The fire is being jointly investigated by the ATF, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Missouri Highway Patrol and Missouri Fire Marshal’s Office.

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 and 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 seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conducting interviews and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the bombing or arson.

This is the 22nd NRT activation this fiscal year and the 911th activation since the inception of the NRT in 1978.

In addition to investigating hundreds of scenes, the NRT has been activated to scenes such as the as the ship fire on the Grande Costa D’Avorio in 2023, the Nashville “Christmas Day” bombing in 2020, multiple fire scenes resulting from civil unrest across the Midwest in 2020, the series of bombings in Austin, Texas, in 2018, as well as national-level tragedies including the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The team also investigated the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson.


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