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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

April 30, 2012

Contact: SA Thomas Ahern

(312) 846-7228

ATF NRT Activated to Investigate Massive Industrial Fire

East Joliet, Ill. – The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with ATF Special Agents from the Chicago Field Division were requested by the East Joliet Fire Department to investigate an overnight fire located at AZZ Galvanizing, 625 Mills Road, East Joliet, Ill. The fire occurred Sunday morning, April 29, destroying the 200,000 square-foot building. The team of two dozen agents and specialists arrived today and will start the scene investigation immediately.

ATF is investigating this fire jointly with our partners, the East Joliet Fire Department, the Illinois State Fire Marshal, the Illinois EPA, and the Will County EMA Hazardous Material Technicians with a goal of determining the origin and cause of this fire, said Andrew Traver, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division.

The AZZ Galvanizing Plant building was a total loss with estimates at more than $20 million. The company is the largest galvanizing operation in the United States and second largest in the world, and employs more than 60 individuals. This is the eighth activation of the NRT in fiscal year 2012, and the 729th 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 is organized geographically to cover the United States. The NRT can respond promptly 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 NRT comprises 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 team works 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 effort 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: