FBI: Fur factory fire was domestic terrorism

Emergency crews and ATF personnel investigate the scene after a fire at the Rocky Mountain Fireworks and Fur Co. near Caldwell, Idaho, on Monday morning, Sept. 26, 2011. AP Photo

BOISE, Idaho - The FBI has classified a fire at a western Idaho fur and fireworks retailer as a potential domestic terrorism case, federal authorities said.

Animal rights activists claimed to have started the Sept. 24 blaze at the Caldwell business. Federal agents "are taking custody of the evidence," Mark Leiser with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the Idaho Statesman.

On the day of the fire, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office in Los Angeles announced that it received a message from animal rights activists claiming responsibility for setting the blaze at the Rocky Mountain Fireworks & Fur Co. No one was injured in the fire.

In addition to fireworks, the business outside Boise buys coyote and bobcat pelts and sells trapping supplies, including equipment that helps drown beavers. It also sells knives, predator calls and scents to help lure bobcats.

The activists said they belonged to a group called The Arson Unit and could have ties to the Animal Liberation Front. Their message said they pumped fuel into an Idaho fur and fireworks retailer before setting the place ablaze.

They also warned that the store must close its doors permanently. "Stay in business, and we'll be back," their message said.

The owners of the business have called on authorities to prosecute those who took claim for setting the fire, which caused about $10,000 in damage.

In the wake of the fire, the business owners said they would have accepted any group that chose to lawfully picket or protest their business. But for activists to set the business ablaze as they have claimed, the owners said it was beyond their comprehension.

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