OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have joined the investigation after a fire broke out at a residential construction site in North Oakland late Thursday night.
The fire broke out near 60th Street and Stanford Avenue around 10 p.m. Thursday, at a site that was slated to be new lofts.READ MORE: Donald Millwee, Condemned California Inmate Who Killed Disabled Mother, Dies Of Natural Causes
“ATF Special Agents from the San Francisco Field Division have responded to the fire last night,” the agency said in a statement to KPIX 5 Friday morning. “The agents are Certified Fire Investigators. We are working with our local partners. Currently the fire is still under investigation.”
“ATF is here due to some past incidents with the city of Oakland involving buildings under construction. That’s one of the reasons they’re here to assist us,” said Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Demond Simmons.
Oakland Fire Department officials said the site is a 3-story residential multi-unit structure that has been under construction for the last several months. Because it was dark out when the fire happened, a battalion chief says that it was hard to immediately determine if the building is a total loss.
“Crews did an excellent job of arriving on scene, conducting a size up following an initial arrival report. And then quickly set up hose lines in place and applying water and stopping forward progress of the fire,” Simmons said.
Firefighters remained on scene early Friday morning, focusing on the back and sides of the building.
Tony Wilson co-owns the building.
“The framing was all completed and we were looking forward to finishing it, but now we’re looking forward to cleaning it up,” said Wilson.
Wilson owns the building next door, too. He says surveillance cameras were pointed toward where the fire happened.
“It’s too late. Catch them, maybe. But it’s not going to put our building back,” said Wilson.READ MORE: Contra Costa County Deputies To Face No Charges For 2018 In-Custody Death
Neighbors said at first they heard unrelenting sirens in their North Oakland neighborhood before they finally stepped outside to see what happened.
“At first I couldn’t see. I knew it was a fire because there was ton of smoke and the embers were literally going over the building, and all I could see was a stream of flames high up in the air and embers,” neighbor Isabelle Forter told KPIX 5.
At a news conference, Simmons said the exact cause is still trying to be determined.
.@OaklandFireLive gives us an update on the fire investigation happening in #WestOakland. Batallion Chief Demond Simmons says exact cause is still trying to be determined. @KPIXtv pic.twitter.com/EaGkQ853KK
— Jackie Ward (@JackieKPIX) July 26, 2019
This is the 9th fire since 2012 that happened at a housing construction site in the East Bay. Previous fires have been ruled as arson, but the cause of this fire has not been determined.
By Friday afternoon, investigators had determined that the origin point of Thursday night’s fire was on the first floor in the front of the building.
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— Andria Borba (@AndriaKPIX) July 26, 2019
No injuries have been reported.