The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken over the investigation of a fire that broke out at Rocky Mountain Fireworks & Fur, in Caldwell, Idaho, during the early morning hours of Monday, Sept. 26.
The fire, which caused substantial damage to one of the business’ buildings, is believed to have been an act of arson. The North American Animal Liberation Press Office sent out a press release on Sept. 26 that said a group who calls themselves “The Arson Unit” claimed responsibility for the fire. The release claimed the group could be a part of the Animal Liberation Front.
“By oppressing innocent life, you’ve lost your rights. We’ve come to take you down a notch. Stay in business, and we’ll be back,” the message from “The Arson Unit” read in part.
Dennis Heck, the owner of RMFFC, found out about the fire just before 5 a.m. on Sept. 26, but the family was not allowed near the building for several hours.
“My family and I gathered at my home and we talked about what our next steps would be to salvage what we could and begin the rebuilding process,” he said.
At 8 a.m., when he contacted the local fire chief, Heck was informed that the fire looked suspicious.
“Later Monday afternoon, the investigator and other authorities walked us through the building and pointed out the areas where the fire had been intentionally started,” Heck said.
Shortly thereafter, Heck received the press release from the NAALPO.
“We were in disbelief that anything like this could happen in our community,” Heck said. “We were angry and scared and we began to do some research about the ALF. We wanted to know how they could justify such a dangerous act that endangered the lives of so many innocent people.
“What we quickly discovered is that the ALF operates by its own set of rules and they feel no remorse for any of the terrible crimes they commit. They compare people who legally use animals for food and clothing to Hitler, child rapists and human slave owners, but they refuse to call themselves what they really are — domestic terrorists. They use violence and hate to send their messages and will use any rhetoric to try to justify their acts.
“This is a group that had never once tried to lawfully approach us about our business. They had never attempted to protest or picket our store. They gave themselves the authority to be our judge and jury with no regard to the laws of the country they choose to live in.”
The business did not have any previous incidents with animal rights groups before the fire.
“We had never given too much thought to a group like this being much of a threat in Idaho,” Heck said. “This is a state that thrives on its hunting, fishing, trapping, farming and ranching commerce. A group with their type of agenda is incongruent with most Idahoans’ beliefs.”
In the aftermath of the fire, RMFFC have taken steps to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.
“Suffice it to say that we have taken extreme measures to protect our building, employees and families, and we take seriously their threats to come back and try to harm us again,” Heck said.
Despite the damage, RMFFC has been able to operate business as usual.
“While there was substantial damage to one of our buildings, the ALF was largely unsuccessful in their attempt to destroy our business,” Heck said. “We were open for business the next morning and have continued business as usual since then.”
In fact, business has been even better than expected for the longtime Trapper & Predator Caller advertiser.
“The trappers, hunters, sportsmen and community around us have been overwhelming with their support,” Heck said. “There has been a continual stream of customers, phone calls and e-mails with condolences and offers of help. The ‘economic sabotage’ attempted by the ALF has not come to light.
“We have had customers tell us that they did not plan on coming in to buy anything until they heard of the arson. They are now coming in to make both large and small purchases to let us know they are behind us. Local radio stations have done broadcasts in support of us and have offered to do live shows at our store to show support.”
Heck also credits those involved with putting out the fire and investigating it for their outstanding work.
“We are extremely grateful to all of the fire, police and federal agencies for their prompt response and continuing vigilant investigation,” he said.
Lastly, Heck offers a word of advice to others involved in the trapping, hunting, ranching or fishing industries — “Be on guard.”
“The people associated with these kinds of domestic terrorist activities have made it their goal to shut down our way of life,” he said. “Be aware of happenings around you in your communities. Report suspicious persons to local authorities. Be involved in attempts to pass legislation to limit how you hunt, trap and ranch. Your rights are slowly being chipped away by these types of groups. Band together and make your voices heard. This is your country and heritage. Be a part of protecting it.”
Rocky Mountain Fireworks & Fur is located at 14950 Hwy 20/26, Caldwell, ID 83607. You can call them at (208) 459-6894 or visit their website at www.rmfur.com.
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