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14 cattle trucks burned in arson at Harris Ranch

Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco Chronicle January 11, 2012
Animal-rights activists are taking responsibility for an arson fire that destroyed 14 cattle trucks at the sprawling Harris Ranch in the San Joaquin Valley off Interstate 5.
The fire broke out at the feed lot truck-storage facility at the ranch about 3:45 a.m. Sunday, said Fresno County sheriff's Deputy Chris Curtice. Firefighters found 14 trucks fully engulfed and extinguished the blaze within 45 minutes, he said.
In an e-mail sent to the media Monday, the North American Animal Liberation Press Office said it had received an anonymous message from someone with specific details about the fire at the Coalinga ranch, one of the largest farming operations in the San Joaquin Valley.
"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 10," the e-mail said.
"We were extremely pleased to see all 14 trucks 'were a total loss,' " the message said.
"We're not delusional enough to believe that this action will shut down the Harris feeding company, let alone have any effect on factory farming as a whole," the e-mail said. "But we maintain that this type of action still has worth, if not solely for the participant's peace of mind, then to show that despite guards, a constant worker presence and razor wire fence, the enemy is still vulnerable."
The e-mail ended with, "Until next time."
Curtice said sheriff's investigators "know everything you know right now," and declined to comment on the e-mail.
Mike Casey, vice president of risk management and human resources at Harris Farms, said Tuesday, "Regardless of how or why the fire started, it's troubling that the incident occurred."
Casey said the blaze had not affected the business. He did not have a damage estimate.
Curtice, a 30-year veteran of the sheriff's office, said there have been animal-rights protests at the ranch, but "I don't think we've ever had anything like this."


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