Friday, February 17, 2012

Honduras: ATF International Response Team to Investigate Prison Fire

SOURCE Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

At the request of the Honduran government, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today activated its International Response Team (IRT) to investigate the fire that swept through a national correctional facility in Comayagua, Honduras, killing more than 350 inmates. The ATF IRT provides technical and forensic assistance and oversight worldwide in arson and explosives investigations.

At approximately 10:50 p.m. Tuesday a blaze swept through the prison which housed approximately 850 inmates. The Honduran government requested ATF's expertise through the Department of State to determine the cause of the fire. The ATF lead element of the team will arrive today and begin reconstructing the scene, identifying the origin of the fire, conducting interviews, and sifting through debris to obtain evidence related to the blaze.

The ATF IRT is composed of veteran special agents who have post blast and fire origin-and-cause expertise; forensic chemists; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection and electrical engineers; accelerant detection canines; explosives detection canines; intelligence support, computer forensic support and forensic audit support. Each team assembled and deployed is designed to best accommodate the specific incident.

This activation is the 32nd call out for the ATF IRT since its inception in 1978. The IRT travels abroad to investigate large-vehicle bombings; provide technical support in the disassembly of improvised explosive devices; and to provide investigative oversight in large-scale fires that result in massive loss of life and property loss estimated in the millions of dollars.

Past activations include an Albanian ammunition depot explosion in April 2008 that killed 26 people, wounded approximately 400 others, and destroyed or damaged more than 4,000 homes and businesses; the recovery of several improvised explosive devices in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in January 2008; and a nightclub bombing in Bogota, Colombia, that killed 32 people in February 2003.