EMERYVILLE (CBS SF) — ATF investigators on Thursday confirmed the fire that destroyed an Emeryville construction project last month was the work of an arsonist.
Authorities also released surveillance photos of a possible suspect in the fire.
The man was seen riding up to the site on San Pablo Avenue and entering with a backpack. A short time later, the seven-story apartment project went up in flames.
The same site was torched last July in another case arson.
The developer had hired guards and installed security cameras after the first fire, but the guards were not in the area where the person got into the building prior to the second fire.
Authorities said it was unclear if the same person started it, but they confirmed that circumstances were similar.
“In both fires there were unauthorized persons identified to be in and around the building prior to the fire,” said ATF Special Agent in Charge Jill Snyder. “Also, in both fires, the stage of completion of the building was around the same.”
Both incidents did major damage to the building, which consisted of 105 apartments and 25,000 square feet of commercial space.
“This is a violent crime,” Emeryville Police Chief Jennifer Tejada said. “We are very fortunate that we did not lose lives in both of these incidents.”
Together, the ATF and the developer are offering up to $100,000 in reward money for information leading to arrests.