OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A massive fireball erupted at an Oakland warehouse storing painting equipment early Tuesday, turning the building located in East Oakland near the Coliseum into a pile of smoldering debris.
Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Tracey Chin said crews were alerted to the fire by a 911 call at about 6:30 a.m. for the warehouse across the street from the BART parking lot for the Oakland Coliseum station.
Arriving firefighters were confronted with massive flames and smoke billowing out of the building. Nearby power lines were also down.
Facebook video taken by commuter Travis Watts before police closed the lot because of burning embers and smoke showed how intensely the fire was burning.
They quickly elevated the response to two alarms and took up defensive positions outside the burning one-story industrial building near the intersection of 72nd Avenue and Hawley Street.
The building, containing paint supplies, equipment and paper business records from the Oakland-based George E. Masker painting company, was a complete loss.
A worker said the company was in the process of moving out.
Two power lines fell during the firefighters’ initial attack, a risk for firefighters who could have walked into them.
“It’s very easy to do when you’re in firefighting gear and encapsulated,” said Oakland Fire Department Battery Chief Tracey Chin.
PG&E had to shut off power to about 500 customers until the area was deemed safe.
“Water is a conductor of electricity, so we want to be very careful of how were applying water and not have that electricity come back to the operator of the nozzle,” explained Chin..
Fire crews remained on the scene early Wednesday afternoon mopping up and making sure they did not miss any hot spots. The plan is to take down the large exterior metal walls of the warehouse with heavy machinery.
The owner of the building had planned to demolish the warehouse and build affordable housing on the property, but that will likely be put on hold in the wake of the fire.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known and remains under investigation. There were no injuries resulting from the fire.
BART, which runs near the scene of the fire, did not report service impacts due to the blaze.