Harris Ranch Fire: Animal Rights Activists Say They Did It

Jan 10, 2012
By Ashley Ritchie
KMPH Fox Channel 26

The fire broke out around 4 a.m. Sunday at the Harris Ranch feed lot. In the end, 14 big rigs were melted to the ground.

Self-proclaimed arsonists say they set fire to the largest cattle lot on the West Coast. They sent an anonymous letter to the North American Animal Liberation Press Office claiming responsibility for the Harris Ranch fire.

“It was just an anonymous group of people who did not say they were acting on behalf of a particular group,” Will Hazlitt with the North American Animal Liberation Press Office, said. But whoever they are they know a lot and are releasing more details than investigators are right now.

In the statement they say, “Containers of accelerant were placed beneath a row of 14 trucks with four digital timers used to light four of the containers and kerosene-soaked rope carrying the fire to the other ten.” The statement goes on to say, “We were extremely pleased to see that all 14 trucks were a total loss.”

“What you’re trying to do is create economic hardship for the ranch and the people that own the ranch so they know there are people out there who care about these animals and how they live,” Hazlitt said.

The group says all it’s doing is delivering the message.

“I would not call them criminals. I would simply say that they are activists undertaking direct action,” Hazlitt said. “I think that you have to look at it in the service of the broader movement, in other words you cannot commit violence against inanimate objects.”

But the violence might not be over. The letter closed by saying, “there is a lot of stuff that needs to be destroyed and we can’t count on spontaneous combustion and careless welders to do all the work. Until next time…”

As for that economic hardship, a Harris Ranch spokesperson says the fire has not impacted day-to-day activities and right now it is business as usual. Officials at both Harris Ranch and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office say they are not commenting on the anonymous letter.