Oakland, CA — This morning at 1:59 am, the Oakland Fire Department received a report of a fire at a housing development under construction located at West Grand between Myrtle and Filbert in West Oakland. The fire erupted at a 126-unit, three-story townhouse development and quickly escalated to a five-alarm response. The Oakland Fire Department deployed 90 fire personnel, including 15 engines, 4 truck companies, and command staff. The massive fire caused a substantial number of large embers to blow eastward, igniting two additional structure fires in the 800 block of Isabella Street, which were extinguished by Oakland, Alameda County, and City of Alameda mutual aid fire crews.
Around 3 am, the Oakland Fire Department also responded to a fire at another housing development under construction located at 3266 Peralta, which appeared to be attempted arson. That fire was out on arrival when crews arrived on scene. Oakland Police were called to assist in that investigation due to resources already allocated to the initial fire.
Both fires are currently under investigation by the Oakland Fire Department. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives National Response Team has been activated and is en route to Oakland to assist with the investigation.
There have been about a half-dozen fires at housing construction sites in Oakland during the past few years. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf thanked the Oakland Fire Department for their rapid response and urged residents to call 911 or use the anonymous tip line at (510) 238-4031 to report any suspicious behavior or provide information that could assist with the investigation. She also asked residents living near housing construction sites to be vigilant and help by reporting suspicious activity. “An attack on new housing in Oakland is an attack on keeping families housed in Oakland,” she said.
Oakland Fire Chief Darin White thanked the agencies and organizations that assisted with the firefighting and response effort, including fire departments from Alameda County and the City of Alameda, the Oakland Police Department, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Red Cross, PG&E, EBMUD, CalOES, and Paramedics Plus.
Chief White said, “I am grateful to the OFD fire crews for their quick and focused response, which helped minimize property damage and risk to the surrounding neighborhood. We are fortunate that wind conditions were in firefighters’ favor and that no lives were lost in this massive fire.”
One firefighter suffered a moderate leg injury and was taken to the hospital; he has been treated and released. About 6-8 residents from the neighborhood were temporarily displaced by the fire and will move back into their homes. Initially, about 2,000 customers lost power, and PG&E crews were busy restoring electricity to the neighborhood.
Phil Kerr, Executive Director of City Ventures, the housing developer, said they are committed to rebuilding and expressed appreciation for the great partnership they have with the City of Oakland to build housing. Oakland’s Planning & Building Department has pledged to expedite the permits required to demolish the fire-damaged structures and rebuild the much-needed housing units. There are currently 8,641 housing units under construction in Oakland.