NEW YORK – The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) along with ATF special agents from the New York Field Division were activated Thursday to join the investigation of the fire and explosion at Praxair, Inc., 175 East Park Ave., in Tonawanda. The fire and subsequent explosion occurred early Thursday morning. The NRT is expected to arrive on scene late today.
“ATF is committed to working with its state and local partners by bringing its expertise and resources to determine the origin and cause of this incident,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge James S. Higgins, of ATF New York Field Division.
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 explosions 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 on-site 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 11th NRT activation in FY 2014 and the 758th since the inception of the NRT.
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, as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.