Ecoterrorism Suspected in Home Fires

Three luxury houses in Washington State were destroyed early Monday, and officials say it may have been the work of the Earth Liberation Front. The radical environmentalists have claimed responsibility for dozens of similar attacks.

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MARTIN: …arson in Seattle may have come with a political message. Three luxury homes in Washington State were destroyed early yesterday, and so-called eco-terrorists may be to blame. Now, a sign left near the scene of the fires written on a sheet with spray paint bore the initials E-L-F, for Earth Liberation Front. That's a group of extremist environmentalists that has claimed responsibility for dozens of similar attacks since the 1990s. While officials consider the sign as evidence, they have not yet accused the ELF of the crime. Incendiary devices were removed from the homes, but officials said there was no evidence they had been used in the fires. The FBI is investigating the fires as a possible act of domestic terrorism.

STEWART: The local sheriff's office estimates the fires did $7 million in damage to the so-called Street of Dreams, a row of unoccupied, furnished luxury homes. Tens of thousands of people visited the structures last summer to see the latest in high-end housing, interior design and landscaping.

MARTIN: The homes were also touted as eco-friendly. They were much smaller than previous Street of Dreams developments in the area - about 4,500 square feet instead of 8,000. And they were equipped with waterproof sidewalks, super-insulated walls and windows and products made with recycled materials.

STEWART: But some residents took issue with the homes' proximity to an aquifer, and the sign left near the fires read, quote, "Built Green? Nope. Black," and "McMansions in RCDs are not green." RCDs is a reference to rural cluster developments.

MARTIN: Builder Grey Lundberg says if environmentalists are to blame, they've done more harm than good.

Mr. GREY LUNDBERG (Builder): They've just doubled and tripled the impact of these homes on the environment. They're burned down. They've got to be rebuilt. It's really sad.

STEWART: Earth Liberation Front has claimed responsibility for several other luxury home fires in the area in recent years. One alleged ELF activist is on trial in a separate incident in Tacoma, Washington right now for the 2001 firebombing of the University of Washington Center for Urban Horticulture.

Now let's get to some more of today's headlines.

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