Jack London Square Christmas tree intentionally set on fire ahead of tree lighting, official says

The annual Jack London Square tree lighting in Oakland is expected to go on, despite someone setting fire to the tree.
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The annual Jack London Square tree lighting in Oakland is expected to go on Saturday night, despite someone setting fire to the tree overnight.

With less than a week until the official lighting ceremony, the already-decorated Christmas tree is now part of an arson investigation.

The Oakland Fire Department says someone set the tree on fire around 1:20 a.m. Monday.

The fire department is approximately 200 yards away and arrived and put out the fire within minutes.

"Definitely could have been a much scarier scene had it taken longer for the crew to get there," said Oakland Fire Department Spokesperson Michael Hunt.

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Hunt says surveillance video shows one person set the fire. They left behind a canister, though Hunt did not want to specify what type.

"It is very clear that this was intentionally set and a very dangerous scene for everyone involved," said Hunt.

Less than 10% of the tree suffered significant damage and the tree is structurally sound with no risk of it falling at this point, according to the fire department.

He says the plan is to fill in sections that were burned or cover up sections so that this Saturday's tree lighting can go on as planned.

"To have someone potentially jeopardize that and jeopardize the opportunity for people to gather in communal spaces safely is a really frustrating moment right now," said Hunt.

The fire department is coordinating its investigation with the Oakland Police Department.

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