Abandoned home gutted by fire in Oakland

May 30, 2012 12:09:53 PM PDT
Authorities are looking for the owner of an abandoned home that caught fire in Oakland this morning. Flames shot out of the roof of a three-story home on Martin Luther King Jr. Way near 29th Street.

Right now, it's blackened and gutted. Firefighters have left the scene. But early this morning, the fire burned hot and for a long time inside what should have been an empty house.

It's a wakeup call and a nightmare, all in one.

"I woke up this morning to sirens, lights going off and the smell, the smell is so bad it burns your throat," said witness Maria Martinez.

Oakland firefighters arrived to dark smoke and bright orange flames shooting from the roof and second floor of an old Victorian home.

"Everything happened so fast. I got dropped off on this corner and walked in the house and next thing you know five minutes later, this happened," said witness Jazzie Levine.

The three-story house was abandoned which can be bad news for firefighters, for two reasons.

"It would have had time to build before anyone noticed it. It has been vacant for a long time, so that creates a lot of open spaces so the fire can run," said Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Robert Lipp.

There was a man staying in the basement, apparently. But, he got himself out safely as fire crews arrived on scene. The battalion chief doesn't think he had anything to do with the fire, since it didn't start in the basement.

"My guess would be the second floor, in the front," said Lipp.

The front of the house is now an empty shell. And neighbors are still reeling from a frightening morning.

"Yes I'm afraid, I'm scared of fires. I'm petrified. Fires are scary, that's really scary," said Martinez.

The fire department will work with public records to find the owner. Fire crews will also continue to do spot checks to make sure there's no further fire danger. There is no word on the cause of the fire.