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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

Feb. 27, 2014

Contact: PIO Michael Knight

(615) 335-7120, mobile

Jeff Hentschel

Communications Director

TN Occupational Safety and Health Administration

(615) 741-2257

ATF NRT Concludes Investigation of Manufacturing Plant Explosion

TOONE, Tenn. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced their preliminary findings in the Chemring Countermeasures (Kilgore Flares) incident. The ATF National Response Team (NRT) has deemed the incident as non-criminal in nature and has classified it as an accidental explosion. The explosion occurred in a mixing room and resulted in the death of one employee.

On Sunday, the NRT joined the explosives investigation into the Chemring Countermeasures (Kilgore Flares) manufacturing plant, which holds federal firearms and explosives licenses.

The incident caused considerable monetary damage, and resulted in the severe injury and eventual death of one individual. The individual, Michael Chism, was pronounced dead on Monday. Hardeman County Sheriff John Doolen stated, “Condolences are with the family of Michael Chism during this traumatic event. The community suffered a great loss due to this devastating incident.”

The NRT team, led by Central Region Team Supervisor Steve Cordle, arrived on-scene Sunday, and began the investigation Monday.

The NRT, along with ATF special agents from the Nashville Field Division responded with the Hardeman County Sherriff’s Office and other first responders. The United States Attorney’s Office-Western Judicial District of Tennessee, Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office-Bomb and Arson Section, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Toone Tennessee Fire Department, Hardeman County Emergency Management, Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration are assisting with the investigation.

“ATF is committed to working alongside its state and local partners, bringing its expertise to determine the origin and cause of the explosion, and provide whatever resources necessary to thoroughly investigate and provide answers,” said ATF Nashville Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey L. Fulton.

In 1978, ATF developed the NRT to bring its expertise to federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant explosives and arson 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.

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 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 teams’ efforts are technical, legal, and intelligence advisers. Moreover, a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.

This is the 4th NRT activation in fiscal year 2014 and the 751st since its inception.

In addition to investigating hundreds of 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, West Texas explosion, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

More information on ATF can be found at