Published January 13, 2015
Oct 19, 1998: Arson at a Vail ski resort causes an estimated $12 million in damage, one of the most devastating ecoterrorism attacks in U.S. history.
Oct 22, 1998: Investigators officially blamed arsonists for a series of fires atop Vail Mountain. Authorities later said they had at least 100 suspects in those fires.
Earth Liberation Front (ELF) claimed responsibility for the fire, claiming it targeted the resort 100 miles west of Denver because it was expanding into potential habitat of the lynx, an endangered cat.
Authorities have blamed ELF for economic sabotage across the country that has caused tens of millions of dollars in damage. The FBI describes the group as one of the nation's leading domestic terrorist organizations but ELF contends that harming people is not its intention.
2000: Authorities get a big break in the Vail case when a hunter found four 5-gallon gas cans hidden under some broken branches in the White River National Forest just outside the ski area.
Jan 20, 2006: Federal authorities announce 65-count indictment of 11 alleged members of ELF and the Animal Liberation Front. The government accuses the group of committing 17 attacks across Oregon, Wyoming, Washington, California, and Colorado from 1994 to 2001, causing millions of dollars in damage to forest ranger stations, meat-packing plants, lumber companies, holding pens for wild horses, and a high-tension power line tower. Several are also charged with starting the 1998 Vail fire.
Specifically, the indictment included the charges of conspiracy to commit arson; conspiracy; arson; attempted arson; use and possession of a destructive device; and destruction of an energy facility.
May 18, 2006: A federal grand jury indicted four people in the 1998 arson at the Vail ski resort.
Two of the suspects, Chelsea Gerlach, 29, and Stanislas Meyerhoff, 28, are in custody in Oregon facing arson charges in separate cases. The whereabouts of the other two, Josephine Sunshine Overaker, 31, and Rebecca J. Rubin, 33, are unknown. Each faces eight counts of arson. Each charge is punishable by five to 20 years in prison.
Source: The Associated Press