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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

July 27, 2010

Contact: Christian Hoffman, Special Agent, PIO
Office: (818) 265-2507
Cell: (213) 216-3622

ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate Gamez Auto Center Fire

Los Angeles, Calif. — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with ATF special agents from the Los Angeles Field Division have been activated by a request from the Los Angeles Fire Department to investigate a fire at the Gamez Auto Center, 821 S Esperanza St., Los Angeles, Calif. The fire which occurred early Monday morning, July 26, killed two and critically injured two others that were inside at the time of the fire. The team of two dozen agents and specialists will arrive today and will start the scene investigation tomorrow.

ATF is investigating this tragic fire jointly with the Los Angeles Fire Department. We will work together in partnership to determine the origin and cause of this fatal fire, said John A. Torres, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division.

The total loss of the Gamez Auto Center is estimated by the investigators to exceed $1 million. This is the 21st activation of the NRT in fiscal year 2010, and the 703st activation since the inception of the team in 1978.

In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to investigate in partnership with federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant arson and explosives incidents. The NRT consists of three teams organized geographically to cover the United States. Each team can respond within 24 hours to work jointly with 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 Murrah Federal Building bombing and the 9/11 Pentagon crash site, as well as explosions at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

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 forensic 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. Further complementing the team’s efforts are technical, legal and intelligence advisors. Moreover, a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson. More information on ATF can be found at