Sheriff has harsh words for farm arsonists

Sheriff has harsh words for farm arsonists »Play Video

SVENSEN, Ore. - Fires and explosions rocked a property early Monday morning east of Astoria that has been targeted in the past by animal rights activists, and late Wednesday night the North American Animal Liberation group claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a press release, the group said they used eight incendiary devices to start fires.

The fires destroyed a boat and melted its fiberglass hull, and nearby, a family sedan was apparently set on fire.

In a barn at the back of the property, a couple of forklifts, a small front-end loader and the building itself were also charred.

The fires and explosions woke Henry Pelto from his sleep at three in the morning.

“It was a huge explosion and it rattled the whole house,” Pelto said. “And it kind of rattled the whole neighborhood. And after that, there was some muffled booms and then a couple of shotgun-loud booms.”

Animal rights activists were on the property in 2008 and released minks from cages, but the irony is there are no more mink on the property. The farm’s been shut down since December.

“We’ve torn up all the sheds out of here and everything so it really was senseless,” Pelto said.

Investigators with the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, plus detectives from the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the incident.

Clatsop County Sheriff Tom Bergin on Wednesday called the people who allegedly set the fires “jerks” and “that these individuals are cowards, who have no respect for property of another.

“We often see these types of individuals have never worked or tried to better their own lives through hard work or make something for themselves but they will take up some cause while sitting around their friends or parents house smoking pot thinking in their distorted little minds how they are going to make the world a better place.

“There is nothing lower than people who perform selfish acts that has the potential to take property or worse yet the life of another. Now if they lit themselves on fire to enhance their cause, at least I would have a little respect for them but once again, they are truly cowards living in a fantasy world.”

Pelto said the forklifts and front-end loader may be covered by insurance, but the car and boat were not.

He said he was glad he had been watering the property the night before with a spray hose and it was ready for him to pick up and use to put the fires out inside the barn.