OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Federal investigators have determined that arson was the cause of a three-alarm fire at a construction site in West Oakland two weeks ago that disrupted BART service for 12 hours.
However, Special Agent Christian Hoffman of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said investigators do not want to release the details of specific evidence that led them to the arson ruling because the case is still under investigation.
“Only the suspect or suspects and law enforcement agencies know what started the fire and we don’t want to reveal any evidence of the crime that will be used in court,” Hoffman said.
The ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating fires and crimes of arson.
ATF’s local and national agents joined the Oakland Fire Department, the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County arson task force in investigating the fire that started at about 2:15 a.m. on June 14 at the Red Star Senior Apartment construction site at Fifth Street and Mandela Parkway, which is next to the West Oakland BART station.
The blaze damaged the elevated BART tracks adjacent to the construction site and forced the transit agency to shut down transbay service for about 12 hours, forcing many commuters to seek alternative ways of traveling between Oakland and San Francisco.
No one was injured in the fire, but ATF officials said the blaze caused at least $25 million dollars in damage at the senior housing complex, where construction work had nearly been completed.
Jeffery Vind, acting ATF Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division, said, “Although the fire scene is wrapping up, there is still a lot of investigative work to be done on this senseless act of violence.”
Vind said, “We are committed to working this investigation with our fire and law enforcement partners to ensure the public’s safety while trying to determine who is responsible for setting the fire.”
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