ATF to investigate West Chester fire

The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), along with Special Agents from the ATF Philadelphia Field Division, and members of the ATF Philadelphia Arson Task Force were activated to respond to the a 5-alarm fire that occurred at the Barclay Friends Senior Assisted Living Center located at 700 N. Franklin Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The fire occurred at approximately 10:45 p.m., Thursday evening. First responders arrived on scene shortly after the first call was made to 911 assisting with the evacuation of approximately 160 residents and staff members. The NRT will arrive on scene tomorrow morning to start processing the fire scene and determine the origin and cause once the building has been secured.

“ATF is committed to working with our partners at the Chester County Fire Marshal’s Office, Emergency Services Management Office, West Chester Police and Chester County District Attorney’s Office by adding our expertise and resources to the investigation”, said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson, ATF Philadelphia 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 fires, explosives and arson incidents. The NRT consists of three 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 onsite investigations.

The teams are each composed of veteran special agents who have extensive post-blast and fire origin and cause expertise; forensic chemists; explosives enforcement officers; fire protection engineers; accelerant detection canines; electrical engineers; 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 fire/bombing/arson.

Further complementing the team’s technical efforts is a fleet of fully equipped response vehicles strategically located throughout the United States is available to provide logistical support.

Since its inception in 1978, the NRT has deployed 817 times. This is the second activation for Fiscal Year 2018, which began on October 1, 2017.

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 September 11, 2001, Pentagon crash site as well as blasts at explosives and ammunition manufacturing plants, legal fireworks factories and illegal explosive device manufacturing operations.

More information can be found at

Anyone having information regarding this arson should call the ATF 24/7 hotline at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473), email: (link sends e-mail) or submit a tip anonymously by using the ReportIt App on your mobile phone.


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