Investigators looking into fire at the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce
BEAUFORT, S.C. — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT) will begin a joint investigation today of the fire that destroyed the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce early Saturday morning. The total loss of the building after the Nov. 12 fire is estimated at more than $2 million.
A team of ATF certified fire investigators and special agents arrived in Beaufort on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, to support the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in the investigation. The NRT’s primary mission is to concentrate ATF explosives and fire investigative resources and expertise on large scale incidents and complex investigations. The NRT provides an immediate and sustained nationwide response capability, typically deploying within 24 hours of notification, with state-of-the-art equipment and highly qualified ATF personnel.
"ATF's National Response Team works closely with state and local law enforcement agencies and fire departments to effectively supplement the investigatory process with experienced staff and resources," said Charlotte Field Division's Special Agent in Charge C.J. Hyman. "The NRT is a very specialized unit of fire investigation professionals who work with local agencies to thoroughly investigate significant cases and determine or rule out criminal activity."
The NRT’s resources include a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States that allow the NRT to be self-contained for the forensic examination of explosives and fire scenes. The NRT works in conjunction with other investigators to reconstruct the scene, identify the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, and determine the cause. The NRT is composed of veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists, certified fire investigators, forensic mapping specialists, accelerant and explosives detection canine teams, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, electrical engineers and forensic chemists.
Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has deployed 799 times. This is its second deployment for fiscal year 2017. Past NRT activations include such incidents as an explosion in West Texas that killed 14 people in 2013; the spree of 10 arsons at churches in Texas in 2010; a commercial fire in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine firefighters in 2007; and national-level incidents such as the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon; the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta; the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.