Family: Fire suspect didn’t care about Vail expansion
December 16, 2005
VAIL ” Chelsea Gerlach, a suspect in the Vail Mountain ecoterror attack of 1998, never traveled to Colorado or cared about Vail Resorts’ expansion into Blue Sky Basin, her family said Thursday.
“I don’t believe Chelsea has ever been to Colorado, let alone lived there long enough to have any reason to care about the Vail Ski Resort expansion,” said family spokesperson and sister Shasta Kearns Moore. “We have never heard her called ‘Country Girl’ and neither do we know where that nickname came from.”
The 28-year-old Portland resident was arrested last week on indictments for allegedly taking part in arsons and other crimes between 1998 and 2001 in Oregon and Washington. On Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdahl linked Gerlach to the Vail arson at a bail hearing in Eugene, Ore.
Gerlach was an activist concerned about the environment, Kearns Moore said.
“She has always believed in peaceful means, and I can’t imagine any reason she would be involved in this,” Kearns Moore said. “I don’t know why the prosecutor would bring this up other than to cause a negative backlash against Chelsea; to make her look guilty when in fact they have no solid evidence against her.”
The 1998 fires on Vail destroyed or damaged three buildings and four chair lifts, causing an estimated $12 million in damage.