“It could have killed someone,” said San Diego Fire Captain Jeff Carle. Three workers sleeping at a construction site were able to escape after the terrorist Earth Liberation Front (ELF) set fire early Friday morning to an unfinished, 200 unit condominium development near San Diego.

According to one report: “Flames leapt 200 feet into the air and could be seen for miles. Grapefruit-sized fireballs landed in courtyards and patios of adjacent buildings, and burning embers swirled in the night.” Nearby residents were evacuated and returned home to find their window blinds had melted from the heat.

“If you build it — we will burn it — the E.L.F.’s are mad,” read a twelve foot sign next to the arson site. The San Diego Union-Tribune received an e-mail from ELF criminals claiming responsibility. And convicted arsonist Rodney Coronado, identifying himself as an ELF “spokesman,” took time out from an animal rights convention in Los Angeles to rationalize the destruction to reporters.

The media failed to mention that Coronado was in San Diego that very day. At 6:30 PM on Friday, he gave a lecture on “militant animal and earth liberation” at the San Diego-based “Animal Liberation Weekend.” And in Coronado’s world view, setting a life-threatening fire qualifies as a plan to “liberate” the planet.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has lent financial support to both ELF and Rodney Coronado, has yet to make a statement.

Up to 100 officials have been assigned to investigate the fire, which caused as much as $30 million in damage, according to the San Diego Fire Department. A 500-gallon fuel tank exploded. For photos of the blaze, click here.

One local resident described the event for San Diego’s NBC affiliate: “Smoke was just coming straight at you. The flames were just all over. It was just terror.” A construction worker remarked: target=_blank>”I’m out of work now. Thank you, arsonist.”