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Fire guts the country's biggest fur feed supplier

A fire broke out at the country's largest fur feed supplier around 10:30 AM Monday. The fire raged out of control until 2pm and was not fully extinguished for many hours. The building was reported as 'heavily damaged'.

The fire has tentatively been ruled accidental. This is the second time the Utah Fur Breeder's Cooperative in suburban Salt Lake City has burned down. In the first, the Animal Liberation Front took credit in 1997 for planting explosives and incendiary devices in the building and doing over $1,000,000 damages.

There has been no damage estimate, though photos of the building show a large portion of the building to be destroyed.

The business is reportedly out of commission for the moment, leaving Utah farmers desperate to formulate feed that will maintain a quality of pelt needed to stay in business.

Significant target

The feed supplier is among the most significant lynchpins in the US fur industry. Last year I turned up a 2001 newspaper article in the Salt Lake City library, illustrating how important this supplier is to the survival of the country's second largest fur farming state. The article covered a lawsuit brought by two mink farmers, who claimed that the feed supplier was so crucial to their business, when it stopped delivering to their town, both farms were forced to close.

After initial suspicions the fire was the work of the ALF, it has been blamed on a welder working in the roof.

Experimental fur farm closed?

One interesting item came out in the news reports: the feed supplier (again, reportedly) no longer has an experimental fur farm on site. For decades, the business has had an on-site farm lab where new feed formulations were tested. The farm portion itself was twice targeted by the ALF in the mid-1990s. However, news reports state that there were no animals on the property at the time of the fire.

Frequent ALF target

Because of its significance, the Fur Breeders Cooperative has been targeted numerous times by the Animal Liberation Front. In addition to the 1997 bombing, there have been two mink liberations from the experimental fur farm, and one attempted arson. In Dean Kuiper's book 'Operation Bite Back', he gives a detailed account of the attempted arson by Rod Coronado, who attempted to burn the building down by himself in 1991 after entering through the roof. The incendiary device failed to ignite.

Most recently, activists in Salt Lake City staged a protest at the building in spring of 2010. Local police were sued after they gave the activists an unlawful order to disperse, and were ordered to pay protesters and lawyers over $30,000.

Later this week I will be posting a photo gallery of images from the fire.

- Peter Young

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