SEATTLE - Federal investigators said Tuesday they had uncovered no clear leads on how arsonists lit the fires that destroyed three luxury homes and damaged two others in a suburb outside Seattle.
The only definitive clue was a spray-painted sheet found at the scene of the Monday's pre-dawn fires bearing the initials of the Earth Liberation Front, Kelvin Crenshaw, special agent in charge of the Seattle office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told a news conference near the crime scene north of Woodinville, about 15 miles northeast of Seattle.
ELF is a loose collection of radical environmentalists that has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks since the 1990s.
"The only thing that is consistent to this point with what we know as an ELF fire is the banner," Crenshaw said, adding that it had been sent to an FBI lab for testing.
The banner mocked the claims made by the homes' builders that the 4,000-plus-square-foot houses were environmentally friendly. It read: "Built Green? Nope black. McMansions and RCDs r not green," a reference to rural cluster developments.
An alleged ELF activist is on trial in Tacoma for the 2001 firebombing of the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture.
The FBI has no evidence linking the fire to the trial of Briana Waters, a 32-year-old violin teacher from Oakland, Calif., who is accused of serving as a lookout while her friends planted the firebomb.
A federal jury resumed deliberations in the Waters case Tuesday. She could face at least 35 years if convicted.