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Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house

News ArchiveThe Guelph Mercury has received an e-mail from a group taking responsibility for a suspicious fire that razed a home under construction in the city's east end. E-mail lays claim to blaze at house

Police skeptical about statement

MAGDA KONIECZNA

GUELPH (Jun 29, 2006)

The Guelph Mercury has received an e-mail from a group taking responsibility for a suspicious fire that razed a home under construction in the city's east end.

The e-mail -- which included anti-development slogans-- allegedly came from Earth Liberation Front, an international terrorist organization that has claimed responsibility for other fires in the city.

But police aren't putting too much stake into this most recent e-mail just yet.

Because the home burned early Tuesday and the e-mail didn't arrive until yesterday, police are saying the message could have come from someone who wasn't actually involved in the fire.

And, they stress, there's still no proof the fire was deliberately set.

"You can read the paper yourself and put your name on (the fire)," said Constable Dave Muller of Guelph Police. "Until we determine the cause of the fire, we cannot rule out anything else."

The Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, has been linked to four fires in the city since last June.

In January, a fire at an unfinished home on Dawn Avenue caused $5,000 damage. The Mercury received an e-mail from a group calling itself ELF that claimed responsibility for the blaze.

In October, a blaze at the Cutten Club's pro shop caused $200,000 damage. Someone spray-painted 'ELF in support of special diet campaign' near that site.

Last June, fires at the new Zellers store on Stone Road and the Church of Our Lady caused $25,000 damage on the same night. The words 'ELF' and 'No more development' were spray-painted at the Zellers fire, and police said at the time they suspected the two fires are related.

Tuesday's blaze, at 75 Summit Ridge, in view of the old Eastview Road landfill site, cause about $200,000 damage, the fire department said Tuesday.

That brings to $430,000 the total damages caused by suspicious blazes in the city since last June.

But it's hard to say whether the fires are connected, Muller said. He added that no arrests have been made in any of the suspicious fires.

Police hadn't acquired a copy of the fire department's report on the blaze yesterday, so it was hard to conclude whether the most recent fire was arson.

Fire prevention officer Matt Valeriote said Tuesday the fire is suspicious because there was no live electricity to the home, and no machinery near the site could have provided a spark.

Valeriote and the fire department's spokesperson Lyle Quan did not return calls yesterday.

Although the Earth Liberation Front is considered a serious domestic terrorism threat in the United States, taking responsibility for actions from arson to sabotage of logging equipment, expert John Thompson said the group doesn't have a formal structure, and it's unlikely ELF-related activities elsewhere are related to those in Guelph.

"It's a methodology and a habit rather than an organization," said Thompson, who is president of the Toronto-based, non-profit Mackenzie Institute, which studies organized violence, including terrorism.

"When these groups appear, they're usually highly localized. You're not talking about wealthy people with travel budgets -- it's where they can drive to, or heck, where they can bicycle to."

He said it appears there's a cell in Guelph, and it could be just a single person, or up to four or five or six.

And he has advice for police -- "wait," he said. "Eventually, you'll catch someone and away you can go.

"Let's face it, the cops have other things to do besides closely scrutinizing radical environmentalists," he said.

mkonieczna@guelphmercury.com

YOURVIEW

Share your opinion on this story.

Send comments to Box 3604, 8-14 Macdonell St., Guelph, ON, N1H 6P7, or fax to 519-767-1681. E-mail editor@guelphmercury.com. You must include your name and contact information for verification.

_________________

$200,000 blaze 'suspicious'

HOME UNDER CONSTRUCTION DESTROYED BY FIRE

DAVE CARTER, GUELPH MERCURY

Guelph firefighter Andrew Duncan walks through the remains of a home under construction at 75 Summit Ridge that was destroyed by a 'suspicious' fire early yesterday. Damage was pegged at $200,000.

GUELPH (Jun 28, 2006)

Fire officials say a "very suspicious" fire caused $200,000 damage to a home under construction on Guelph's east side early yesterday.

Several calls came into the Guelph fire department around 2:45 a.m. about a blaze at 75 Summit Ridge -- a new street directly across from the old Guelph landfill on Eastview Road.

Fire prevention officer Matt Valeriote said the extent of the damage to the large, detached dwelling left it impossible to determine just what had caused the fire or where it had started.

"When our crews arrived, the house had already collapsed into the basement," Valeriote said.

Crews from two Guelph stations responded to the fire. The house was unoccupied at the time and nobody was injured.

Valeriote said there was no live electricity in the home and work crews hadn't left any machinery around that could have ignited the blaze, which is why he has labelled the fire suspicious.

It took fire crews roughly an hour to put out the blaze as well as a fire in a garbage dumpster adjacent to the house, which was the only one in a 50-metre radius under construction in the new subdivision.

Valeriote said the home had a completed roof, plumbing and electricity roughed in and most of the windows and doors installed.

It was due to be bricked in yesterday, Valeriote said.
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Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house | 8 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 11:30 AM CDT
Just a couple million more of these and we'll be making progress.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 02:59 PM CDT
Some of the actions claimed on behalf of the ELF mentioned here don't seem like typical ELF actions. Particularly the Church arson and golf course vandalism I don't understand the connection to defense of the earth.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 05:46 PM CDT
i dont know about the church, but golf courses have the highest concentrations of pesticides in urban areas.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 30 2006 @ 02:12 AM CDT
Here is some background - http://www.profaneexistence.net/community/viewtopic.php?p=24837

Some of the other actions grafitti on a golf club pro-shop about welfare signed by the ELF, and arson at a church and a store called Zellers.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 07:46 PM CDT
The sprawl in southern Ontario is atrocious and doesn't look like it's going to stop. New subdivisions are popping up everywhere ...

This seems unavoidable though, as people are still buying these homes, but property values keep going up and up ...

A typical, new, cookie cutter home in a Toronto suburb like Oakville or Burlington, on property sizes around 100'x50' are selling for $300k+ ... the steady increase in property value over the past 10 years is driving this development, as the demand still exists. Major developers are continually pressuring the local municipalities to rezone areas to build new subdivisions as it seems to be quite lucrative.

Now that David Suzuki gave the thumbs up for the Greenbelt act in Southern Ontario, the local municipalities have buckled to the years of developer pressure. Essentially this is Green Stamped sprawl, and will eventually taper off:

http://www.oakvillegreen.com/html/greenbelt.htm

I call bullshit on all of this though. As this will not stop future governments from overturning the law due to pressure from the rural communities. Why would they complain? Well they want to make money selling their land too. The sprawl will never stop.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, June 29 2006 @ 10:42 PM CDT
I find ELF actions like this inspiring but I often wonder how effective they are. Burning a horse capture facility or mink farm can be very effective since often they are not rebuilt. Burning new developments can set projects back, cost developers who then higher more security guards, and raise insurance premiums but has it ever been effective.

I especially appreciate that people still feel so passionately and are taking huge risks in the midst of the green scare.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, June 30 2006 @ 08:28 AM CDT
Actually, such actions have managed to keep hummers off of dealer lots. Fewer than a dozen of them were 'lit up' and due to increased insurance premiums, dealers can't afford the liability.
Prohibitive insurance costs can alter capitalist behavior.
Ontario: E-mail lays claim to blaze at house
Authored by: Anonymous on Saturday, July 01 2006 @ 07:10 PM CDT
dude, are you kidding me!? Maybe in one or two towns they keep the
hummers off the lots, but not most places. And really it doesnt matter
much, because if someone wants a hummer they will buy one,
regardless of is on displayor not. This is hardly altering capitalist
behavior, and nothing worth mentioning. Really, look around and
consider all of the cities and towns and car dealerships and
developments just in your area and tell me if something like that matters.
I'm not condeming such attacks at all, but let be honest about their
effectiveness. ELF attacks might temporarily alter some institutions and
how they do buisness, but in the grand scheme of things, this is
nothing. The spectacular events and how they affect culture are what
seems more interesting. The more the attacks happen, the more people
are confronted with the issues and that type of resistance. (obviously,
society must change if we want to do away with development...it will
never happen by burning it all away)
By creating events that cannot be avoided or swept under the rug,
society must instead face such things. What effects that has cannot be
measured, but it is what I think has much more value than the monetary
value of an individual action.

(but i would make a different argument for those actions that actually
have to opportunity to directly close an operation ...like someone said
above...fur farm raids, slaughterhouses, and a couple other things have
been closed....but I dont think a development has hever stopped
because of an action, and car dealerships have good enough insurance
to brave the storm for a year or two when it comes to their town.) In the
larger picture, you have to ask ...even when a place closes as a result of
an action..."How did this effect PRODUCTION?" and I would say "How
did this effect SOCIETY?" and finally someone should figure out what
their intentions were in the first place.