Incident Summary:

10/19/1998: Members of the Animal and Earth Liberation Fronts (ALF and ELF) claimed responsibility for setting multiple fires at the Vail Ski Resort outside of Vail, Colorado in the United States, causing an estimated $24 million in damages and loss. There were no casualties in the incident; however, the fires caused structural damage to radio towers, ski lift towers, restaurants, and the ski patrol office. Altogether there was damage to eight structures, including four ski lifts, at two sites on a stretch of land about a mile apart; five structures were damaged at one site and three at the second. In a communiqué sent via email to the Liberation Collective and various local universities, newspapers, and public radio stations, both ALF and ELF claimed responsibility for the incident, stating that the motive was to protect the lynx habitat and warned that skiers should choose alternative destinations. The perpetrators were part of a group calling themselves "The Family," which committed nearly 20 arson and ecotage attacks over a 6 year period.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
at the Vail Mountain Ski Resort outside of Vail, CO

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Facility/Infrastructure Attack
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Business
Name of Entity Vail Ski Resort
Specific Description buildings and ski lifts at the Vail Ski Resort
Nationality of Target United States
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Yes
Extent of Property Damage Major (likely > $1 million but < $1 billion)
Value of Property Damage $24,000,000.00
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Incendiary Gasoline or Alcohol
Weapon Details
ignited gas cans and buckets of fuel
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) No
Additional Information The fires were first observed at about 3:45am. The perpetrators were part of a group calling themselves "The Family," which committed nearly 20 arson and ecotage attacks over a 6 year period. Chelsea Gerlach was sentenced to 9 years for her crimes ; Stanislas Meyerhoff was sentenced to 13 years in prison; Rebecca Rubin and Josephine Overtaker remained fugitive; William Rodgers committed suicide while being held in an Arizona jail in 2005. Jacob Ferguson and Kevin Tubbs were also involved in the planning of the incident, but they were not indicted for this particular case.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Group Sub-name Claimed Responsibility
Animal Liberation Front (ALF) The Family Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: E-mail)
Earth Liberation Front (ELF) The Family Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: E-mail)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators 5
Number of Captured Perpetrators 3
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 0 Fatalities / 0 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 0
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 0
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
U.S. Government’s Sentencing Memorandum for CR 06-60069, CR 06-60070, CR 06-60071, CR 06-60078, CR 06-60079, CR 06-60080, CR 06-60120, CR 06-60122, CR 06-60123, CR 06-60124, CR06-60125, and CR 06-60126. U.S. District Court: District of Oregon, Eugene, 2007.
"Deputy Assistant Director Michael B. Ward, Deputy Assistant Director William G. McMahon and Assistant Special Agent Daniel R. Nielsen hold a news briefing on the status of four domestic Eco- terrorism fugitives at the Foreign Press Center," CQ Transcriptions, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., November 19, 2008.
FBI, "Terrorism in the United States: 1999," Counterterrosism Threat Assessment and Warning Unit, Counterterrorism Division, FBI, DOJ, 1998.