BRAWLEY – The Federal Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives has dispatched the Los Angeles Field Division National Response Team (NRT) to Brawley to help investigate the fires that are destroying the downtown businesses and buildings.
“Over 20 specialists, the best in the country, the best in the world, are focused on these fires,” said Assistant Special Agent Craig Chillcott. “The National Response Team was activated last week based on my recommendation and the Special Agent in charge. These agents are from all parts of the country. The team encompasses some of our best investigators, fire specialists, structural engineers, fire scientists, certified fire investigators (CFI’s), chemists, and a team leader. We are expending a lot of manpower and resources on this investigation.”
Chillcott went on to explain how the Brawley Public Safety Departments have helped.
“You have a wonderful community in Brawley,” said Chillcott. “The Chief of Police, the Fire Chief, their staff, and investigators have opened up everything to us. Our focus when we do one of these call-outs is that we are one team, all focused on solving this. We’re all working together. We share all of the reports, findings, etc. The support from the State and Federal level has been incredible. We needed a helicopter to fly over some of the fire scenes. I was able to call up one of our sister agencies, Homeland Security Investigators (HSI), formerly ICE, and within a matter of hours they had a helicopter available with a pilot through their flight wing. There has been an incredible amount of cooperation. Everyone wants to help and work towards the goal of figuring out what this is and solving it.”
The NRT could be here a week or more investigating the fires.
“This may be a long one,” said Chillcott. “It’s almost like an archeological dig. You get a small piece of data, analyze it, send it to the lab, and you get an analysis. It may take some time. We are looking at everything.”
No arsonist has been caught as of Sunday.