OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A three-alarm vegetation fire burned near homes along Interstate Highway 580 in Oakland Thursday afternoon, threatening structures before crews controlled the blaze.
Flames broke out in an encampment along the westbound lanes near the 35th Avenue overcrossing just before 5 p.m. right next to a Chevron gas station — leaving singe marks on the retaining wall and threatening nearby apartment buildings.
The Oakland Fire Department Twitter account posted video of the fire at about 5:15 p.m.
Multiple crews are responding to a vegetation fire along westbound 580 freeway at 35th Ave. Updates to follow. #OFD. Please Avoid the area. We are 20 minutes into this incident. pic.twitter.com/QM7oDF56jX
— Oakland Fire Department (CA) (@OaklandFireCA) October 23, 2020
Oakland Fire officials later confirmed that multiple structures above westbound I-580 were threatened by the fire. Approximately 40 firefighters battled the fire from three engine companies with Hayward and Alameda County crews helping the Oakland Fire Department.
By shortly after 6 p.m., firefighters were still actively addressing hot spots and any potential exposure of the vegetation above I-580 and behind homes on Quigley.
— KPIX 5 (@KPIXtv) October 23, 2020
Video from Chopper 5 showed the growing fire burning in the brush on the hillside just above lanes of the freeway.
Marcell Jarvis was driving on Interstate 580 when he saw the flames. “We have a lot of these homeless encampments everywhere and they have a lot of stuff. So, I’m not surprised and this is not the first time this has happened,” said Jarvis.
“I hope that it wasn’t human carelessness on anyone’s part, that would be a terrible waste of firefighter resources,” said Robert Kurtz who lives nearby.
Oakland firefighters say they spend time educating the unsheltered about fire risks, precisely because of red flag warning days.
“It is a safety issue for the unsheltered and as we saw today it has a high risk for anyone living in the area,” said Oakland Fire Deputy Chief Nick Luby.
No one was injured by the flames and no buildings were lost this afternoon.
Firefighters in Oakland got a jump start on putting out the fire because there was an Alameda County strike team, pre-positioned nearby – a service paid for by CalOES because of the red flag conditions.