Oakland officials continue slow, careful investigation after deadly 4-alarm fire

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Three people are now confirmed dead from a fire that broke out in a three-story apartment building in the East Bay and Monday night, one person may still be missing hours after the fire started. It all unfolded on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland.

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The area is still blocked off to traffic as crews make sure everyone is accounted for while investigators try to determine the cause of the fire.

Firefighters plan to be at the scene through the overnight hours. They describe the work as slow and methodical. The three-story building is just too unstable.

"It pretty much pancaked from the third to the second to the first," said Oakland Fire Battalion Chief Erik Logan. "And so that's what's making the search efforts slow and pretty difficult."

The fire broke out at 6:15 a.m. Massive flames and smoke sent more than 80 residents running for their lives, some hanging from their windows and others onto the fire escapes.

"I heard people screaming and banging on the walls and windows telling people to get out, get out, get out," said fire victim Tarub Smith. "I was asleep and when I heard that and I got up, got my kids, grabbed our shoes and we ran outside and when we opened the door it was like backdraft."

The coroner identified one of the three victims as 64-year-old Edwarn Anderson.

Those who made it out alive checked in at a temporary shelter set up at the West Oakland Youth Center on Market Street.

"I just don't know what to do," said victim Darlene Jones. "I lost everything. I don't have nothing. Just bags, free clothes. I don't have underwear. I don't have nothing."

It's unclear how long this shelter will remain open. The goal is to find a long-term housing solution for the fire victims.

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"The health needs, the drug needs, That's going to be the challenge," said Salvation Army captain Purnell Hall. "Being able to find places that will take the individuals in."
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