Feds: Luxury Home Fires Were Eco-Terror

Feds "strongly suspect" that an eco-terror group set Seattle-area fires.

ByABC News
February 10, 2009, 8:11 AM

March 3, 2008 — -- Federal authorities strongly suspect that the Earth Liberation Front is responsible for a series of fires that have destroyed four multi-million dollar show homes in a suburb north of Seattle, sources told ABC News.

Officials said the fires are being investigated as acts of domestic terror, but they cautioned that it's too early in the investigation to make any solid determinations. The blazes began before dawn Monday and were still smoldering by late morning. The homes were unoccupied and no injuries have been reported, officials said.

The fires are suspicious because they began at multiple locations in several houses, Snohomish County district seven Fire Chief Rick Eastman told the Associated Press.

A spray-painted sign with the initials of the group was found at the scene. It appeared to mock claims that the new homes were environmentally friendly, the AP reported Monday.

"Built Green? Nope black!,'' reads the sign in an image first aired on KING-TV.

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) is an underground group of loosely organized, radical environmentalists who have been responsible for hundreds of arsons and other acts of sabotage in the Pacific Northwest over the past two decades.

Agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and local officials swarmed the area to investigate the fires.

The target of the potential arson attacks was a string of luxury homes known as "The Street of Dreams,'' being showcased for an annual event in which developers construct high-end houses which are then decorated by local designers and lushly landscaped by local firms. Thousands of Washington residents pay to tour the homes.

The subdivision was built near the headwaters of Bear Creek, home to the endangered chinook salmon, the Tacoma News Tribune reported. Opponents of the development had argued that the subdivision could pollute Bear Creek and endanger the fish. There were also concerns about some nearby wetlands.