Glendale fire caused more than $12 million in damage; ATF activating National Response Team

GLENDALE, Colo. - This weekend's Glendale fire was so massive that it caused more than $12 million in damage and now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has activated its specialized National Response Team to help investigate.

The National Response Team is only asked to assist federal, state and local investigators "at the scenes of significant arson and explosives incidents," the ATF said.

Even though the cause of Saturday's fire has not been definitely ruled as arson, investigators work under that presumption unless proven otherwise, Denver Fire said.

The three-alarm fire broke out at 801 South Cherry around 11:40 p.m. Saturday. It destroyed the 4-story building, which was under construction, and melted cars, siding, windows and outdoor furniture in neighboring buildings.

The ATF is now working with the Denver Fire Department, Glendale Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation on the case.

The NRT teams work alongside state and local investigators 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 incident.

The NRT consists of four teams organized geographically to cover the United States.  Each team can respond within 24 hours to join state and local law enforcement/fire personnel in onsite investigations.  

This activation of the NRT is the 2nd time that it has been activated this  fiscal year and the 749th it has been activated since its inception in 1978, the ATF said.

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.

An NRT team 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.