ATF National Response Team Activated to Investigate Mount Vernon Fire

The National Response Team (NRT) from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with agents from the ATF Columbus Field Division have been activated at the request of the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal to investigate the Oct. 25 fire at 201 S. Main Street, Mt. Vernon. The NRT will arrive today to conduct an assessment of the fire scene and formulate an investigative plan with state and local investigators.

Christopher Sadowski, special agent in charge, ATF Columbus Field Division, said the structure is a total loss. Past deployments of the NRT to Central Ohio include the investigation of the Sept. 2008 arson fire at Mason's Furniture Store in Circleville, the May 2009 arson fire at Highcom-Wolfden in Hilliard, and the Sept. 2010 fire on N. Sandusky Street in Delaware County, said Sadowski.

ATF's NRT has brought definitive expertise and an array of state-of-the-art equipment to the investigation of major fire and explosives incidents since 1978. Since its inception, the NRT has partnered with federal, state and local investigators in meeting the challenges faced at the scenes of significant arson and explosives incidents.

Investigators from the Ohio Division of State Fire Marshal and the Mount Vernon Police and Fire Departments will jointly investigate with the NRT.

The NRT works alongside its partners in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or the origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the explosion or fire. This is the 4th NRT activation in fiscal year 2011 and the 712 since its inception.

The NRT is composed of veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists and certified fire investigators; forensic mappers, accelerant and explosives detection canines; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection engineers; electrical engineers; and forensic chemists. NRT special agents are explosives and fire investigators trained to work numerous fire and explosives scenes.

The team works 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 is also deployed to support the safety and security of major sporting events in the United States, presidential inaugurations, national political conventions and major international conferences. Since its inception, the NRT has been activated more than 700 times.

The responding NRT component typically has 13 to 18 members, including 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. Further complementing the team's efforts are technical, legal and intelligence advisors. A fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States provides logistical support.

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