PHOENIX — The National Response Team (NRT) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating a fire that destroyed a discount store at 35th Avenue and Van Buren on Sunday, September 29.
The fire began around 3:45 a.m. and quickly escalated in size and scale, fully engulfing the ABC Discount Center. The incident caused smoke damage to surrounding businesses in the strip mall.
Over 60 Phoenix firefighters were called to the scene, the Phoenix Fire Department said.
According to Special Agent Thomas Mangan, estimated damages from the fire "are expected to exceed six million dollars."
The ATF National Response Team is working with investigators from the Phoenix Fire Department and the Phoenix Police Department to determine the "origin and cause of the fire," according to Mangan.
"ATF is committed to working with our partners at the Phoenix Police and Fire Departments by adding our expertise and resources of the NRT to the investigation to determine the origin and cause of this fire," said Special Agent in Charge of ATF Phoenix Field Division Monique Villegas. "This was a large fire and has impacted the community. I applaud the fire suppression efforts of the Phoenix Fire Department to knock the fire down so quickly."
The statement from Mangan continued:
"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 of an incident. In the case of bombings and arsons, NRT members gather evidence to support criminal prosecutions. A deployed NRT is generally broken down into two components - a group that processes the scene and an investigative-lead element. In the course of the overall investigation, both components coordinate daily to ensure investigative continuity."