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Suspected arson attack closes Tesla plant near Berlin

A suspected arson attack has hit production at Tesla’s electric vehicle plant near Berlin.

The factory came to a standstill and workers were evacuated on Tuesday after a power outage that officials suspect was caused by arson.

According to the Interior Ministry in the state of Brandenburg where the plant is located, unknown perpetrators are suspected of deliberately setting fire to a high-voltage transmission line.

The early morning fire caused the power supply to fail to the surrounding towns, including Grünheide, where the Tesla factory is located.

Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen said initial findings indicate the fire was intentional, according to the German news agency dpa.

“If the initial findings are confirmed, it will be a perfidious attack on our electricity infrastructure,” Stübgen said.

The power outage at the Tesla factory comes as environmental activists have been staging a protest in a forest near the plant against plans by Tesla to expand.

A letter claiming the suspected arson attack in the name of a far-left militant group calling itself the “Volcano Group” surfaced on an alternative media website on Tuesday.

“We sabotaged Tesla,” read the letter, posted on website kontrapolis.info, describing the attack as a gift marking March 8 – International Women’s Day. “Tesla consumes earth, resources, people, workers and in return spits out 6,000 SUVs, killer cars and monster trucks each week.”

(2023 Getty Images)

Police said they were aware of the letter, which was signed “Agua De Pau”, the name of a volcanic mountain in the Azores, and said they were checking its authenticity.

The “Stop Tesla” protest has seen dozens of activists put up tents and built treehouses, some of them several meters above the ground — a tactic used in previous German environmental protests.

Tesla opened the factory in Grünheide in March 2022 — launching a challenge to German automakers on their home turf.

The company now wants to expand the facility to add a freight depot, warehouses and a company kindergarten. Those plans would entail felling more than 100 hectares (247 acres) of forest.

That has drawn opposition from environmentalists and some other local groups, who also worry about possible effects on the area’s water supply. In a nonbinding vote in mid-February, residents of the municipality rejected Tesla’s plans, which still need approval by local authorities.

About 12,500 people work at the plant.


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