Thursday, June 14, 2007

Anarcho-Terrorist Loose In St. Louis?

The St. Louis Post Dispatch can almost put two and two together: Fire ruins 2 St. Louis work sites

A pre-dawn fire in the Central West End of St. Louis destroyed two structures under construction.

Fire Capt. Steve Simpson said that the three-alarm blaze had broken out shortly before 4 a.m. in the 4000 block of Lindell Boulevard, just west of Vandeventer Avenue. By 5 a.m., things were under control, he said.

Simpson said by phone from the scene that the blaze had destroyed the two projects -- a residential compex and a fast-food restaurant. But Simpson said firefighters had stopped the flames from spreading to nearby Metro High School, at 4015 McPherson Avenue.

Still, the heat blew out some windows in the school. A student arriving for classes said classes for today had been shifted to Carr Lane Middle School at 1004 North Jefferson Avenue.

One firefighter was injured slightly when an ax cut his hand, Simpson said. And a woman in the area was treated for smoke inhalation, Simpson said.

Simpson said the woman had told authorities she had seen something suspicious. He could not specify what she had seen but said officials would investigate. "It's always considered suspicious when it's a construction site," he said.

The fast-food project destroyed was an Arby's. Simpson said the fire had also damaged an Arby's that the construction project was meant to replace. He described the residential complex that was destroyed as three or four stories high.

Simpson said the fire had also caused minor damage to a nearby strip of retail businesses. The fire was near the site of the Salad Bowl, a landmark eatery that closed late in 2005

In all, Simpson said, 25 to 30 trucks responded to the fire.

By odd coincidence, today's fire broke out almost exactly a year after two condo projects in Lafayette Square burned up in what officials said was arson. Those fires -- they hit on Mississippi Place and Vail Place -- started just 37 minutes apart last June 14.

And in April 27, a fire believed to be an arson case destroyed a condo project at 2201 South Grand Boulevard.

Mayor Francis Slay announced a $65,000 reward in those cases. But nobody came forward to claim it.

Considering the types of construction hit by the arsonist(s) and the specific kinds of neighborhoods involved (urban gentrified or gentrifying), I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict we will find these fires are A) connected and B) perpetrated by someone with an "eco-terror" or an "anti-capitalism/globalization" political agenda.

How much you wanna bet it wasn't some youthful idealist who got "carried away" after reading Capitalism & Freedom?


Anonymous said...

Eco-terrorism? In St. Louis? And you accuse the Slate writers of being out of touch with reality?

You've been away from St. Louis too long, IM. You know we like our ravioli toasted, our pizza square, and our arsonists' motives' prosaic.

What would be the point of eco-terrorism on Lindell Avenue? It's not like undeveloped land is being threatened by these buildings. Hell, the buildings they are putting up are probably more energy efficient than the ones they are replacing.

Because it's St. Louis, the culprit is more likely to be a disgruntled, long-time patron of the former Salad Bowl, than an eco-terrorist.

If I had to make a serious guess, I'd hazard a fire bug who hits construction sites because they are big, unguarded, and resident-free. All the shiny flames with none of the guilt. I'll even throw in a political grudge against developers in general--but on economic, rather than environmental, grounds.

The Iconic Midwesterner said...

Hey, I never said it would be a "well thought out plan"!


entropy said...

I'm still leaning towards a disgruntled employee, sub-contractor angle.
Not sure yet about the recent ones but the previous two were connected by the developers involved in the projects.