Oakland warehouse destroyed in early morning fire is the future site of an affordable housing project

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The property at 72nd Avenue and Hawley Street is soon to be the site of 59 affordable housing units. (KGO-TV)

Oakland Fire investigators are working to determine what caused an East Oakland warehouse fire that leveled the building Wednesday morning. The property at 72nd Avenue and Hawley Street is soon to be the site of 59 affordable housing units.

SKY7 showed the large warehouse fire lighting-up the early morning darkness. The warehouse is located near the Coliseum BART station so it could be seen from the train. As power lines fell there was little to be done to save the nearly empty warehouse. Firefighters worked to protect homes in the area.

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"At the moment you're just in shock and you're trying to get away as soon as possible, and the next just thankful that you're still here and your stuff is still here," said Maribel Lopez, who lives next to the warehouse property.

Lopez and her family watched the fire around 6:30 in the morning. But it wasn't the only fire at the warehouse overnight, crews responded to a call around three o'clock.

"It turned out to be a woman using some debris to make a warming fire and so they asked her to put it out and it was a very simple incident," said Capt. Tracy Paganelli, Oakland Fire Department.

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"Regarding that, there is a lot of homeless out here and it's only going to get worse," said Byron Long, an Oakland resident.

The non-profit developer Resources for Community Development hopes to change that by building 59 affordable housing units on the property.

"This is a small piece of a bigger puzzle that we're playing a role in trying to solve," said Eric Knecht, RCD.

They've owned the warehouse for several years and expect to begin construction next year with the housing coming online in 2021.

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"We're hoping that it doesn't slow down the process though. It's another wrinkle in the complex world of building housing, but it's something that we'll get through," said Knecht.

The housing units will be for families who make between $35,000 and $70,000 annually.
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building fireBARTfirefirefightersOakland
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