Sample Block

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

June 22, 2009

Contact: SA Nick Starcevic, ATF

(206) 389-5904

ATF National Response Team Activated to Wenatchee

Warehouse Fire Puts Early Estimates in Excess of $2 Million

WENATCHEE, Wash. — The National Response Team (NRT) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with ATF special agents from Yakima and Seattle, have entered the investigation of a large commercial fire that occurred on June 20, 2009, at the old Stemilt fruit packing warehouse, at the request of Wenatchee Fire and Police Departments.

Robert R. Champion, special agent in charge of ATF Seattle Field Division, said that the approximately 100,000 square foot structure, located at 524 South Columbia Street in Wenatchee, was completely destroyed and with early estimates of damages in excess of $2 million.

In 1978, ATF developed the National Response Team (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 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.

In addition to investigating hundreds of large fire 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 explosions at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories, and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

Each team is 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; and intelligence, computer forensic 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.

This is the NRT’s 19th activation in fiscal year 2009 and the 677th 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 about ATF and its programs is available at