OAKLAND, Calif. — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been activated by request from the City of Oakland to investigate a fire at the Red Star Senior Apartments. On June 14, at approximately 1:30 a.m., a fire destroyed the Red Star Senior Apartments, a 119 unit apartment complex under construction located at Seventh Street and Mandela Parkway. Preliminary estimate of property damage is $25 million. Participating agencies include the Oakland Fire and Police Departments.
The fire occurred next to the West Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station and caused all BART lines between San Francisco and Oakland to be shut down. In addition, track insulators, communication cables, electrical cables and other trackside equipment were damaged. The damage estimates do not include damage caused to the BART station.
“ATF is investigating this fire jointly with the Oakland Fire Department and Oakland Police Department. We will coordinate our efforts and provide our expertise and resources to determine the origin and cause of this fire,” stated Jeffery E. Vind, ATF Acting Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division. This is the ninth activation of the NRT in Fiscal Year 2012 and number 730 since the inception of the team in 1978. The NRT will include 22 team members and is expected to be on scene today.
“ATF’s activation of its National Response Team speaks to the seriousness of the fire that occurred in West Oakland, and the impact it had on thousands of Bay Area residents who were affected by the BART station closure,” stated Teresa Deloach Reed, Oakland Fire Chief. “It is our responsibility to do all we can to identify the cause of this fire, and bring the individuals who may be responsible to justice.”
Other local activations of the NRT in the area include the Roseville Galleria Mall fire in 2010, a commercial building that housed Walgreens and Subway sandwich shop in Palo Alto in July 2007, a large commercial warehouse in Sacramento in September 2006, and Wine Central fire in Vallejo in October 2005.
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 www.atf.gov.