ATF Enters Investigation Involving Tulsa Business Fire

January 23, 2006

The National Response Team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with ATF special agents from Tulsa, have entered the investigation of a large commercial fire that occurred early Monday at the Tulsa Athletic Club.

Early estimates are that the blaze at the club, located at 5122 S. Vandalia Ave., caused more than $2 million in damages. ATF entered the investigation at the request of the Tulsa Fire Department, and both agencies are working together.

In 1978, ATF developed the National Response Team (NRT) to assist federal, state and local investigators in meeting challenges faced at 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 assist state and local law enforcement/fire service personnel in onsite investigations.

Although the NRT has been used predominately to assist in the investigation of commercial fires, it has also been activated to the scenes of criminal bombings such as the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing as well as explosions at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories, and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

Each team is 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; and computer forensic 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.

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