ATF National Response Team joins SLC apartment fire investigation

Posted at 12:43 PM, Feb 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-11 15:28:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the same organization that investigated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and the 9/11 Pentagon crash site are coming to Salt Lake City to investigate the large fire that destroyed a downtown apartment building Sunday night.

A representative for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced Tuesday that its National Response Team has been activated to investigate the blaze.

According to an ATF press release, the NRT works alongside state and local investigators in reconstructing the scene, identifying the seat of the blast or origin of the fire, conduction interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the incident.

“Salt Lake City Fire is looking forward to working alongside the Nation Response Team throughout the duration of this investigation,” said Salt Lake City Fire Investigations Captain Bryon Meyer. “The experience and resources this team brings is invaluable to the outcome of this investigation.”

The 4-alarm fire, which occurred at 540 E 500 S, was first reported around 6 p.m.

The blaze is estimated to have caused $2.5 million in damage to the four-story building, which was still under construction when it caught fire. Witnesses said flames reached 100 feet into the air.

Salt Lake City police detained a man in his 20s who allegedly claimed to be a member of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

“The man being detained said he was with SLC Fire. He is not affiliated with SLC Fire,” a tweet from the fire department said.

ATF is the federal agency that investigates, among other things, large fires and crimes of arson.

In addition to investigating hundreds of large fires, the NRT has investigated acts of terrorism, explosions at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations since its inception in 1978.