A specialized federal team is helping investigate a fire on March 17 that destroyed the historic Shoshone-Episcopal Mission in Fort Washakie, according to a news release from the Denver office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

About 15 special agents and experts with the ATF's National Response Team, plus agents from the ATF's Denver Field Division and Cheyenne Field Office, will work with local authorities to investigate the fire at the mission, which is within the Wind River Indian Reservation.

They will sift through debris, reconstruct the scene, collect evidence and provide cause and origin to the Fremont Country Fire Protection District, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Wyoming State Fire Marshall and the Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation.

The mission was founded in 1889 and was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1973. the building served as a school and boarding house for Shoshone girls.
The ATF has the lead federal jurisdiction for investigating fires and arson in the U.S. and its territories.

The National Response Team concentrates on explosives and fire investigative resources and offers expertise on large-scale and complex incidents because of size, scope or number of victims.
The team is composed of 123 full- and part-time veteran special agents, including certified explosives specialists, certified fire investigators, forensic mapping specialists, accelerant and explosives detection canine teams, explosives enforcement officers, fire protection engineers, electrical engineers and forensic chemists.

Since it began in 1978, it has deployed 787 times. This is the 15th call-out since Oct. 1. Another team is currently investigating a fire at a 65,000-square-foot mink processing facility in Arlington, S.D.

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