Fire breaks out on BYU grounds

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    By Jennifer Turner

    Animal Liberation Front is suspected of arson in the burning of BYU”s barn and equipment early Thursday morning, July 8.

    Capt. Michael Harroun of the BYU Police said Provo Police responded to a notification at 3:40 a.m. by the Provo Fire Department that there was a fire at BYU”s Ground Materials Handling Facility.

    When police arrived, two tractors and several open storage cases of recycled cardboard and compost were on fire. There were also seven different incidences of graffiti.

    The first fire started on one tractor, completely ruining it and then spread to a second tractor, causing extreme damage. The first tractor is estimated to cost $20,000 and the second $10,000 to $15,000.

    The shed where the second fire was located received minimal damage because the shed had metal supports and a metal roof. The equipment surrounding the shed was destroyed, but there was no harm to any animals.

    “There”s no doubt that it”s of a suspicious nature,” Harroun said.

    Six weeks ago, BYU”s horse barn was broken into. Animals were released, equipment was broken, iodine was poured on the floor and walls were tagged with the logo ALF, or Animal Liberation Front, a radical animal rights group.

    “We feel strongly that they are related because of the graffiti on the buildings,” Harroun said. “The tags are very similar to the last attack.”

    Harroun said this time, the letters ALF spray painted in red were found outside a nearby horse barn and on a bed of a truck, a concrete ramp, a trailer, the sides of two sheds and a roll-up door.

    On their Web site, the American Liberation Front took credit for the first incident six weeks earlier, but has not claimed responsibility for Thursday”s fires.

    “It definitely gives us concern,” Harroun said. “It has escalated from minor vandalism to arson.”

    The Provo Police department is working with the FBI and other agencies to develop leads. In the meantime, security on the site will be increased.

    The fire affected few BYU employees. Only a couple of employees still do research in the facility and BYU spokesperson Michael Smart said researchers will not be greatly affected by the fire, and will still be able to continue their research.

    The research conducted is “general research into improving the care and welfare of livestock and will not be effected,” Smart said.

    Anyone with information regarding the incident should contact police at 422-2222.

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