By CHRISTINE SAMRA
CONCORD (CBS SF) — Firefighters kept a watchful eye over the smoldering ruins of a massive Concord apartment project construction site Wednesday as concerns continued over the stability of the burned out structure.
Video released late Tuesday showed the dramatic collapse of a wall of scaffolding five stories high. Firefighters also doused the ruins with water again early Wednesday as the smoldering remains reignited.
The instability of the building has prevented local and federal arson investigators from entering the structure to determine the case of the 3-alarm early Tuesday morning blaze.
The fire was reported at 12:55 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment building under construction near the intersection of Clayton Road and Galindo Street.
Two people were taken to the hospital with smoke inhalation and more than 200 people were evacuated from a neighboring apartment complex. They remained out of their homes early Wednesday over fears that the burned out building would collapse and damage their complex.
Firefighters have given a primarily estimate of $55 million for the damage caused by the blaze.
County health officials warned area residents to avoid direct contact with and inhaling ash and debris from the fire. Those materials can be cleaned with soap and water and the ash should be dampened before sweeping to minimize the generation of dust.
The pollution from the fire could accumulate in nearby creeks and rivers, so people who live nearby should avoid sweeping any ash or debris into storm drains where it might adversely affect the watershed.
Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said the building was the second phase of the Renaissance Square apartments. It was 60 percent complete and a mostly wood structure.
“The majority of the building was under construction without any sheetrock whatsoever, so there’s just no way to control that,” Marshall said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation with the assistance from police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
That agency was also called in to investigate a series of three large fires at buildings under construction in Oakland and Emeryville in 2016 and 2017.
In July, ATF officials released photos of a man they said was an arson suspect and announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Concord Mayor Edi Birsan said that although this was one of the city’s largest fires in recent memory, Concord has a history of rebuilding after major fires.
“We will rebuild,” Birsan said. “This is Concord.”