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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2009

Contact: Special Agent Marc Jackson, ATF PIO

Cell: (404) 886-8096

ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate Georgia Theatre Fire

ATHENS, GA — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team, along with ATF special agents from the Atlanta Field Division, have entered the investigation of a commercial fire that occurred on Friday, June 19, at the historic Georgia Theatre in Athens. The NRT is deploying at the request of the Athens-Clarke County Fire Department and will arrive this morning to begin its work at the scene.

The structure, a popular entertainment venue located at 215 North Lumpkin Street in Athens, suffered extensive damage with a preliminary estimated loss of $1.5 to $2 million.

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 Special Agent Chris Porreca and the Team Special Agent in Charge is Dondi Albritton.

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 will be the NRT’s 18th activation in fiscal year 2009 and the 676th activation since the inception of the NRT in 1978.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at