ATF teams up with St. Paul, Minneapolis Fire departments to help with investigation

Members of the National Response Team of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were activated and responded to Minneapolis and St. Paul earlier this week to work with local, state and federal partners in investigating fires set during a week of violence following George Floyd’s death.

According to the ATF, about 100 business fires are under investigation in Minneapolis in addition to about 35 in St. Paul.

"The cause of these fires is quite obvious," Special Agent in Charge William Henderson, of the St. Paul Field Division, said in a statement. "The task at hand now is to determine who is responsible. ATF’s National Response Team is going to be a tremendous asset. It brings a wealth of knowledge and resources to assist local police and fire departments in large-scale fire investigations."

ATF special agents and support staff who normally cover Minnesota and the surrounding states are also supporting the investigations.

It’s the third and fourth NRT activations in Minnesota this year, following the Press Bar and Parlor fire in St. Cloud in January and a behavioral health clinic in Grand Rapids in February. Prior to this year, the NRT hadn’t been in the state since 2004.

On Thursday, Minnesota Department of Public Safety investigators have joined the ATF St. Paul, St. Paul Fire Department and the Minneapolis Fire Department to begin investigating fires started during the civil unrest.

"This was not just stuff," DPS Commissioner John Harrington said. "It was your life."