Monday, March 03, 2008

Ecoterror Link Eyed in Wash. Fires

Nope, no terrorism here!

Ecoterror Link Eyed in Wash. Fires: "Fires gutted three multimillion-dollar model homes in a Seattle suburb on Monday, and authorities found a sign purportedly left by eco- terrorists that mocks claims that the homes were environmentally friendly.

"Built Green? Nope black!" said the spray-painted sign that bore the initials of the radical environmental group Earth Liberation Front.

Crews removed explosive devices found in the homes, said Fire Chief Rick Eastman of Snohomish County District 7. 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 in the fires, which began before dawn in the wooded subdivision and were still smoldering by midmorning. The sheriff's office estimated damage at $7 million. In addition to the three homes destroyed, two sustained smoke damage.

The houses burned as a federal jury in Tacoma was about to resume deliberations in the case of an alleged ELF activist, Briana Waters. Waters could face at least 35 years if convicted of helping to firebomb the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in 2001.

The fires started at the "Street of Dreams," a strip of unoccupied, furnished luxury model homes where developers show off the latest in high-end housing, interior design and landscaping. The homes are later sold.

The homes are in a development near the headwaters of Bear Creek, which is home to endangered chinook salmon. Opponents of the development had questioned whether the luxury homes could pollute the creek and an aquifer that is a drinking water source, and whether enough was done to protect nearby wetlands.

The sign, a sheet with red scraggly letters, said "McMansions in RCDs r not green," a reference to rural cluster developments.

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. Advertising for last summer's Street of Dreams show focused on the environmentally friendly aspects of the homes, which were smaller than some of the huge houses featured in years past.

"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," said Doug Barnes, the Northwest division president of Centex Homes in Kirkland.

The homes that burned were between 4,200 and 4,750 square feet, with prices up to nearly $2 million. "

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