Earth Liberation Front Claims Credit for $50 Million Fire

Earth Liberation Front extremists carried out their most expensive arson to date in early August when they set fire to a five-story apartment complex under construction. Estimates of the total damage was $50 million.

A 12-foot banner reading “If you build it, we will burn it” and the ELF initials was found at the scene.

About 400 people had to be evacuated from surrounding apartment complexes as the 3 a.m. fire raged.

By coincidence, Rodney Coronado just happened to be giving a speech in San Diego the same evening the fire was set, and numerous media outlets sought out the convicted arsonist for his views on the attack. The Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise compiled a list of quotes of Coronado from various media sources,

  • “I disagree with the FBI’s declaration that ELF is a terrorist organization. I consider a terrorist to be somebody who kills people.”
  • “The fire was a message. The first intent is obviously to cause economic hardship to companies, individuals responsible for destroying the environment.”
  • “I would rather see an apartment complex burn to the ground than developers making money off the environment.”
  • “Regardless of how people feel about these actions, they do help bring the issue to the public’s attention and maybe when it’s enough in the public’s attention that’s when governments will be called upon to do something about it.”


Earth Liberation Front claims responsibility for San Diego arson. Seth Hettena, Associated Press, August 18, 2003.

The Center View: Earth Liberation Front commits most dangerous arson yet. Press Release, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, August 1-4, 2003.

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