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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

June 11, 2009

Contact: ATF PIO Earl Woodham

(704) 501-5005

ATF National Response Team Activated to Garner, N.C.

ConAgra Plant Explosion Results in Three Fatalities, Numerous Injuries

GARNER, N.C. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team, along with ATF special agents from the Charlotte Field Division, have entered the investigation of a large commercial explosion that occurred Tuesday, June 9, 2009, at 4581 Jones Sausage Road, in Garner, N.C. The NRT responded at the request of the Wake County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Zebedee T. Graham, special agent in charge of the ATF Charlotte Field Division, said that the business suffered significant explosion damage and early estimates of the damages are in well excess of $1 million. Fire departments and other emergency management personnel from all of the surrounding counties assisted in the search and rescue efforts. The explosion in the plant resulted in the deaths of three employees and numerous other serious fire and concussion injuries.

The NRT has brought definitive expertise and an array of state-of-the-art equipment to the investigation of major fire and explosives incidents since 1978. Four regional components, organized geographically to cover the United States, comprise the NRT. The team can respond within 24 hours to assist state and local law enforcement or fire service personnel in onsite investigations.

The responding NRT component normally has 18 members, including 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; and intelligence, computer forensic and audit support. A fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States provides logistical support. The responding NRT team supervisor is Supervisory Special Agent Chris Porreca stationed in Jacksonville, Fla., and the Team Special Agent in Charge is Phil Durham, stationed in Washington, D.C.

ATF’s partnership with federal, state and local officers is vital to the most effective processing efforts at an explosives or fire scene. The NRT capitalizes on that by working alongside its partners in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or the origin of the fire, conducting interviews and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the explosion or fire.

In addition to investigating hundreds of large fire and explosives scenes, the NRT trucks were deployed for the 2001 terrorist attack on the Pentagon; the Olympics and other major sporting events in the United States; presidential inaugurations and the national political conventions; and major international conferences.

This is the 6th NRT activation in the Carolinas over the past 23 months, including activations in Spruce Pine, Robbins, and Salisbury, N.C., and Charleston, S.C. Other agencies involved in the investigation are the Garner Police Department and Fire Departments, Wake County Fire Marshal’s Office and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBO).

More information about ATF and its programs is available at