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Mon, Sep 27, 2004

ATF Called In To Investigate Hangar Fire

Approaching Ivan prompts local investigators to ask ATF for help in securing evidence

As investigators continue to search for clues as to what caused a 50,000 square foot hangar to burn down in Galveston (TX), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has been brought into the effort. A team of special agents from the Bureau's Houston office has arrived to assist the locals.

The reason why ATF was called in is that Fire Chief Mike Varela is concerned that given the very large size of the hangar it will take longer to collect all evidence. Tropical Storm Ivan is also headed that way, and the Chief is worried that the rains could wash away that evidence that they need to get to the bottom of the fire.

The hangar is located near the entrance to Moody Gardens. It burned down a week ago, on Monday, and was to have been the centerpiece of a $30 million water park.

ATF Special Agent Franceska Perot cleared up the reasons why the team had arrived. “Technically, we have jurisdiction for any fire at a commercial building,” she said. “In this case, we were brought in because of the size of the scene. We can bring in resources — chemists, engineers and heavy equipment — that they might not have, locally," she told the Galveston Daily News.

The fire was estimated to have caused some $3 million in damage.

FMI: www.atf.gov, www.cityofgalveston.org/public_safety/firedept.cfm

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