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Luxury homes torched

A radical environmental group claims responsibility for the fires.

Associated Press
Published March 4, 2008


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WOODINVILLE, Wash. - Three seven-figure homes went up in flames early Monday in a Seattle suburb, apparently set by eco-terrorists who left a sign mocking the builders' claims the 4,000-plus-square-foot houses were environmentally friendly.

A sheet marked with spray paint bore the initials ELF, for Earth Liberation Front, a loose collection of radical environmentalists that has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks since the 1990s.

The Sheriff's Office estimated Monday's fires did $7-million in damage to the "Street of Dreams," a row of unoccupied, furnished, luxury model homes. Three homes were destroyed and two sustained smoke damage.

Crews removed incendiary devices from the homes, Snohomish County District 7 Fire Chief Rick Eastman said. Later, however, Kelvin Crenshaw, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Seattle, said there was no evidence such devices were used.

The FBI was investigating the fires as a potential domestic terrorism act, said FBI spokesman Rich Kolko in Washington, D.C.

No injuries were reported.

The sign left behind said in red scraggly letters, "Built Green? Nope black!" and "McMansions in RCDs r not green," a reference to rural cluster developments.

The homes that burned were between 4,200 square feet and 4,750 square feet and are on sale at prices up to nearly $2-million.

One of the people involved in the project said the homes used "green" techniques such as water-pervious sidewalks, super-insulated walls and windows, and products made with recycled materials, such carpet pads.

"It's very disappointing to take a situation where we're trying to promote good building practices - Built Green practices - and that it's destroyed," said Doug Barnes, the Northwest division president of Centex Homes in Kirkland.

"We are stunned by this event, and we thank God that each of the homes were unoccupied and that there were no apparent injuries," Seattle Street of Dreams Inc. president John Heller said in a news release.

Fast facts:

What is ELF?

The FBI has said ELF and a sister group, the Animal Liberation Front, have committed hundreds of criminal acts. ELF is known for trying to cause economic damage to companies or organizations it considers to be harming the environment. The group has no organized structure or leadership; typically, autonomous cells of activists take "direct actions" such as arsons and claim responsibility on behalf of ELF.

Watch video

To view a report on the suspected arson, go to world.tampabay.com

[Last modified March 3, 2008, 22:52:34]


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