The Herald - Everett, Wash. - www.HeraldNet.com
Published: Friday, January 20, 2006
Message points to ecoterror
Federal agents say a message claiming association with the Earth Liberation Front was found at the site of a Camano Island house fire.
By Diana Hefley Herald Writer
CAMANO ISLAND - A pink bedsheet found outside a house gutted by fire Tuesday was signed by someone claiming to be associated with the environmental extremist group Earth Liberation Front, federal investigators said Thursday night.
Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that arsonists ignited the blaze, which destroyed a 9,600-square-foot house overlooking Skagit Bay. The ATF estimated the loss at about $2 million, which was down from earlier estimates.
No one was hurt in the fire.
"A message left at the scene claiming responsibility appears to have been written by an environmental extremist group, but at this time, we are not ruling out any motive for the arson," said Laura Laughlin, FBI special agent in charge.
You can help
The Arson Alarm Foundation and Washington Insurance Council are offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the Tuesday arson that destroyed a Camano Island house under construction. Anyone with information is asked to call 888-283-3473.
The FBI, which investigates arsons thought to be the work of ecoterrorists, have found other banner bedsheets at fires started by people claiming to be associated with the group, FBI spokeswoman Robbie Burroughs said.
Along with the signature, a threatening message was spray-painted on the bedsheet and draped over the gate leading to the house, located in the 1000 block of Good Road.
The FBI has refused to comment on the contents of the message.
ELF has claimed responsibility for a number of arsons at houses under construction in the Puget Sound region. The loosely knit group took responsibility for arsons that destroyed two Snohomish houses under construction, and for attempts at several others in 2004.
"It is clear from past statements and recent actions of ELF that urban sprawl has become a central issue in the struggle to protect the Earth," said a statement released by the group's press office after the 2004 fires in Snohomish County.
No arrests have been made in connection with those fires, Burroughs said.
A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the people responsible for the arson on Camano Island.
Homeowner Mark Verbarendse told The Herald Tuesday that he couldn't understand why his house would have been targeted. He could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Verbarendse and his wife, Karla, spent more than a year building their dream house, using recycled materials in some of the construction.
The couple and their four children planned to move into the house in February. Instead, the family will spend another year rebuilding the house, Verbarendse said.
Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or firstname.lastname@example.org.