Incident Summary:

08/01/2003: Suspected members of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) burned down a new apartment complex that was under construction in La Jolla, California, U.S.A. The early morning fire caused more than $20 million in damage to the unfinished, wood-framed building in the upscale University Town Centre residential neighborhood. No injuries were reported. The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the arson attack.



United States

North America

region/u.s. state:


San Diego

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Facility/Infrastructure Attack
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity University Town Centre
Specific Description The University Town Centre community in La Jolla, California
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 $20,000,000.00
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Incendiary Arson/Fire
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 A claim of responsibility was made via a banner left at the scene. It read, "If you build it we will burn it" and was signed with the initials E.L.F.
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Earth Liberation Front (ELF) Yes (Confirmed: Unknown; Mode: Note left at scene)
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators Unknown
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
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
Elliot Spagat, “Officials suspect domestic terrorism in $20 million fire,” The Associated Press, August 1, 2003.
“Urban terrorism? Those who torched project must be caught,” The San Diego Union -Tribune, August 4, 2003.
“Ecoterrorism: ELF suspected in San Diego blaze, FBI says,” Greenwire, August 4, 2003.