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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

June 29, 2012

Contact: Thomas Mangan, Special Agent, PIO

Cell: 602 859 6317

ATF National Response Team to Investigate Church Fire

PHOENIX, AZ. – The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been activated by request from the City of Tolleson to investigate a fire at the LDS Church. On June 29th, at approximately 2:30 a.m., a fire destroyed the LDS Church located at 701 North 95th Avenue, Tolleson, Arizona. Participating agencies include the Tolleson Fire and Police Department.

ATF is investigating this fire jointly with the Tolleson Fire and Police Departments. We will coordinate our efforts and provide our expertise and resources to determine the origin and cause of this fire. We realize that this is not just a loss of a building but a spiritual loss to the LDS community stated Thomas Atteberry, ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division. This is the eleventh activation of the NRT in Fiscal Year 2012 and number 732 since the inception of the team in 1978. The NRT members will be arriving over the weekend to begin processing the fire scene.

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 four 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 bombing/arson incidents.

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 are 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