Fire destroys Buddhist temple in Oakland

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A wall of flames took over an East Oakland neighborhood overnight. Residents ran for help, away from danger, with no time to salvage any precious belongings. The huge fire started at a Buddhist temple and a spiritual celebration may have ignited it. The monks are promising to rebuild after the devastating fire.

Firefighters spent the morning trying to salvage anything that was left in the rubble of the fire. The Buddhist temple is gone, so are two other homes - all because the monks left candles from an annual celebration burning overnight.

"One of the probable causes that we believe is approximately 100 to 1000 unattended candles were burning for their annual celebration," said Oakland Fire Department Batt. Chief Ian Mcwhorter.

The huge fire roared through East Tenth Street in Oakland just before 2 a.m. Firefighters say it destroyed the temple, two homes, five vehicles and three sheds. Four monks were asleep inside as the fire started, it grew big enough to wake them up. Next door, a family of six barely escaped with the fire chasing them right out the front door. They jumped from the porch.

"Extremely scary and my daughter when we got down, she started to cry," said Christine Yev, fire victim

They didn't grab a thing.

"We only come out with are clothes that we slept in, other than that it's up there, and now we have nothing," said Yev.

Firefighters say it took them almost an hour and a half to knock down the fire, saying it spread quickly because of the wood structures it was burning. One man who lost his pickup truck to the fire felt frustrated that all this happened because of candles.

"Try to contain your celebration and turn everything off before you go to sleep," said Enrique Barboza, fire victim.

Three people were taken to the hospital. One victim tripped and has a leg injury another has a minor burn; firefighters say they are all expected to be okay.

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