Arson On the Street of Dreams
Initial news reports focused on a banner found at one of the crime scenes. The banner suggested the fires might have been set by the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), a group whose methods have been characterized by the FBI as special interest extremism. However, the same P-I article reported, "FBI Assistant Special Agent in Charge Dave Gomez said the arsons fit the profile of an ELF attack, but cautioned that anyone could have set the fires and claimed it as an ELF action."
The P-I's story was accompanied by a series of photos of some of the fire scenes. One photo caption included this statement, "Eco-terrorists are suspected of using explosive devises [sic] to destroy or damage several Street of Dreams show homes, which burned in Woodinville on Monday."
Arson can be a very complex crime to investigate. Though motive is not an element of the crime (motive need not be proven to get convictions), it is of interest to investigators. It is often useful to use motivation as the ribbon on the package of physical evidence at trial. Motivation sometimes answers the "why?" question jurors often want to have answered. The Insurance Information Institute's "Topic - Arson" webpage gives a statistical breakdown of the most common motives for arson.
Readers who want to learn more about this complex crime and what motivates people to commit it may want to look at the interFIRE.org website. That site bills itself as, "...the complete resource for fire services, fire insurers, law enforcement and others whose duties involve arson investigation, fire investigation safety and fire scene training."