The Earth Liberation Front is suspected of setting fire to luxury homes near Seattle (Seattle Times)
SEATTLE – Police suspect an environmental terrorist group is behind the burning of five luxury homes in a model “Street of Dreams” development northeast of Seattle this morning.
A message signed by ELF, the Earth Liberation Front, was left at the scene, north of Woodinville, according to Snohomish County District Seven Chief Rick Eastman in a report by local KING-TV.
The sign, shown in KING-TV video, read, “Built green? Nope black! McMansions in RCD’s (rural cluster developments) r not green. ELF”
Agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the fires as a potential domestic terrorism act, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.
The furnished houses, valued at up to $2 million each, were unoccupied, and no injuries were reported. The Street of Dreams is an annual showcase of luxury homes, displaying the latest in high-end design and landscaping.
Firefighters were not allowed near the homes, officials said, for fear of booby traps. Eastman said the blazes, which began at about 4 a.m. local time, were set at six houses. Three have been completely destroyed and two others seriously damaged.
Luxury home ablaze near Seattle (KING-TV, Seattle)
The Seattle Time reported the Woodinville development drew fierce opposition from neighbors who said the land has critical wetlands needed to protect an aquifer used by about 20,000 people. The opponents argued the environment would be overloaded by septic systems and said chinook salmon would be endangered.
ELF is an underground movement launched in the United Kingdom in 1992. The now defunct Earth Liberation Front Press Office said the group uses “economic sabotage and guerrilla warfare to stop the exploitation and destruction of the natural environment.”
Members of the group have been blamed for embedding spikes in trees to cause injury to loggers using power saws.
The FBI in 2001 classified ELF as the top domestic terror threat in the U.S.
Today’s blazes come as the trial of a 32-year-old woman charged in an ELF fire-bomb attack at the University of Washington in 2001 gets under way in Tacoma. Briana Waters, a violin teacher, is accused of serving as a lookout for arsonists who destroyed the university’s Center for Urban Horticulture, which was rebuilt at a cost of $7 million.
ELF activists mistakenly believed researchers at the university were genetically engineering trees.
Firefighters at the ‘Street of Dreams’ near Seattle (Seattle Times)
The Woodinville homes, according to a homebuilder who served as a judge in last summer’s Street of Dreams show, used “Built Green” standards such as water-pervious sidewalks, super-insulated walls and windows and products made with recycled materials, the Post-Intelligencer reported. Advertising emphasized the environmentally friendly aspects of the homes, which were smaller than some featured in previous years.
“It’s very disappointing to take a situation where we’re tying to promote good building practices – Built Green practices – and that it’s destroyed. It’s extremely disappointing. I don’t understand the logic in that,” said Doug Barnes, Northwest division president of Centex Homes and immediate past president of the Master Builders Association of King & Snohomish Counties.