Suspicious 5-alarm fire tears through Oakland condo project site

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Hundreds of customers are without power after a five-alarm fire that broke out Saturday morning at a construction site in Oakland.

It's the second fire at the million dollar condo complex under construction, and developers of the project say they are sure it was arson. The fire sent flames shooting high into the sky and sent smoke drifting as far as San Jose. "That's the second time they burn it down. It's unbelievable. It looks like somebody's against us," construction worker Matt Padilla, who worked on the condo project, said.

The developer says he will not be deterred. "Whoever is doing this is not going to stop us from building housing. We had two armed guards and 12 cameras," Rick Holliday with Holliday Development said.

At nearby Showers of Flowers, owner Tony Martinez says he will be missing out on a lot of Mother's Day business after being forced to close. "No internet. No phone. No electricity. No power for our refrigeration. We lost all of our flowers that came in yesterday because they were in the fridge," he said.

Alameda County's fire chief called the fire suspicious in light of the previous blaze. They can't determine the extent of the damage until investigators are done. Officials were worried about a construction crane which is crumpled from the fire. The fear is it will fall, which forced firefighters to back off. More than a dozen nearby residents were forced to evacuate their homes due to the crane.

"There's not much I can do about it besides get my stuff and get out of here as soon as I can," evacuated resident Mohammad Atiya said.

At Avalon Senior Housing, many elderly residents felt unsafe in the dark. "It's really getting to us seniors. We can't sleep at night," Avalon Senior Housing resident Richard Baker said.

Embers from the fire drifted for blocks and set fire to the roof of a home on 36th St. It didn't appear anyone was home. Neighbors were angry because they were a back into their homes before the roof fire broke out. One neighbor felt the Oakland fire department should have been more careful. "They should have hosed down all these roofs, and then let us come in," Oakland resident Sonya Keelan said.

Neighbors say during the fire embers were raining down like fireballs.

As of 7:16 a.m. the fire was contained but it may take until 7 a.m. Sunday before the fire is out. No one was injured, fire officials said.

On July 6, 2016, a fire broke out at the construction site where 105 apartments and 25,000 square feet of commercial space were being built.

That fire burned four adjacent townhouses, an Alameda County deputy fire chief said following the incident. That previous fire at the site caused $23 million in damage, and displaced two dozen people. It was labeled suspicious.

Emeryville police said San Pablo Avenue is closed between 37th and 40th streets. Adeline Street between 36th Street and Yerba Buena Avenue is closed as is all westbound traffic on West MacArthur Boulevard, Apgar Street and 39th Street from Market Street.

All eastbound travel on West MacArthur Boulevard at Emery Street is prohibited.

Police did not say when the roads will reopen.
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