Eco-Terrorism to Blame?

This is a partial transcript from "On the Record," December 7, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, HOST: Now to the suburbs of our nation's capital, where investigators are searching for an arsonist's calling card after blazing fires ripped through an upscale housing development (search), destroying dozens of homes.

Maryland deputy state fire marshal Faron Taylor is on the scene in Indian Head and joins us live with the late-breaking details. What can you tell us is the latest in this investigation, Faron?

FARON TAYLOR, MD DEPUTY STATE FIRE MARSHAL: Good evening. Significant progress was made today. Of the 26 homes that were damaged by fire, we've determined that 7 of those homes were damaged by arson.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of arson, there are lots of ways to start a fire. Were all seven homes started in the identical way, the same accelerant used in each fire?

TAYLOR: Actually, the method that was employed to ignite the fires we're not releasing, including whether or not an ignitable liquid was used.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any reason to believe that this was related to — I know that there's been an environmental dispute in that area. Is there anything, other than the fact there's been an environmental dispute, to believe that there is a link between that dispute and these fires?

TAYLOR: We have no evidence to that point. We know that there are seven common motivations for arson, and at this point, we have not discounted any single one of those potential motives.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what are those seven common motivations?

TAYLOR: Actually, the top motivation for arson in America is juvenile vandalism. We know in our country that over 50 percent of the arsons are committed by those people under 21 years of age, where on the opposite end of the spectrum is pyromania, the psychological evaluation where someone has that desire and need to set a fire. That is actually incredibly infrequent. Other motivations include arson for profit, either through insurance fraud, crime concealment, spite, revenge. What we see in incidents where a fire was set, a jilted lover may have set it. Those are the type of motivations.

In this particular case, because we still have so many homes still yet to examine for their origin and fir cause, we're not making any speculations and certainly not any conclusions as to who or whom may be responsible.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So there's been no conclusion that it was related to the environmental dispute. But for those who don't live in this area, what is that ongoing environmental dispute, which may be unrelated to these fires?

TAYLOR: Again, it certainly may be unrelated. Relatively close to this development is an environmentally sensitive area, a bog, so to speak, and there have been concerns raised that there may be some type of adverse impact on that sensitive area by the development.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I take it nobody has claimed any sort of responsibility at all at this point for these fires.

TAYLOR: That's absolutely correct.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Faron, thank you very much. And we'll continue to follow this investigation.

Thank you, sir.

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