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State Fire Marshall's Office says criminal investigation takes priority

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WEST -

The State Fire Marshall's Office says criminal investigations take priority over all others in response to the Chemical Safety Board comments.

The head of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board says other investigative agencies are keeping them from investigating the West explosion.

Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso sent a letter to Senator Barbara Boxer about how the ATF and Texas State Fire Marshal's Office blocked the CSB from investigating the incident.

He claims that the ATF and SFMO had "exercised exclusive control" of the site for one month. CSB says the site was "massively and irreversibly altered under the direction of ATF personnel."

MORE: View the complete letter from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board to Senator Boxer here

On late Wednesday afternoon the State Fire Marshall's Office under the Texas Department of Insurance issued a statement in response.

"The investigation at the West fertilizer plant has at all times, and continues to be, an active criminal investigation, which takes priority over all other investigation," the statement said.

"Approximately 30 agencies assisted in the investigation at the fertilizer plant, including the chemical safety board. The multiple agencies involved in the investigation all agreed upon a single protocol prior to the beginning of the investigation. All agencies, except CSB, operated within the protocol."

The ATF has also said they will send a statement but have not as of Wednesday at 7 p.m. They are also accused of removing "relevant physical evidence" from the scene. Plus, any collected evidence obtained by the ATF has not been made available to the CSB and other parties.

Moure-Eraso goes on to say that the CSB was not permitted to conduct separate interviews, prepare expert analysis or author its own independent report.

As a result, the CSB says the obstacles have kept them from completing a "comprehensive investigation."

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