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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

February 4, 2013

Contact: Crisanto Perez, Jr.

(210) 805-2727 (office) ATF

Christian Bove (210) 270-8492 (office)

(210) 837-6594 (cell) SAFD

Deborah Foster (210) 270-8492

(210) 355-8504 (cell) SAFD

ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate San Antonio Church Fire

SAN ANTONIO, TX – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) along with ATF Special Agents from the Houston Field Division, San Antonio Field Office were activated Saturday at the request of the San Antonio Fire Department to investigate a fire at the Childress Memorial Church of God in Christ, 901 N. Pine, San Antonio, Texas. The fire occurred late Friday night, February 1, 2013. The team of two dozen agents and specialists arrived late yesterday and will start the scene investigation today. The local ATF Office and investigators from the San Antonio Fire Department have been on scene since Saturday.

ATF is investigating this fire jointly with the San Antonio Fire Department. We will work together in partnership to determine the origin and cause of this fire, said Melvin King, Jr., ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Division. The total loss of the church is estimated by the investigators to be $2 million. This is the 4th activation of the NRT in fiscal year 2013 and the 740th activation since the inception of the team in 1978.

Other activations of the NRT in Texas include the midrise fatality fire in Houston in March 2007, the Gallery Furniture fire in Houston in May 2009, the Church fires in Tyler and Temple in January and February 2010, the Boling Egg Farm fire in July 2010, the Garden Ridge fire in October 2011, the Channelview White Elephant Flea Market fire in March of 2012 and most recently the Lake Jackson Bowling Center fire in November 2012. The last time the NRT was in the San Antonio area was in response to a cabinet warehouse fire in 2006.

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 or Follow ATF on Twitter!