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Oakland-Emeryville construction site catches fire twice in 10 months

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No one reported hurt in apartment complex’s second huge blaze since last July

Fire broke out at a construction site at 3800 San Pablo Avenue between Oakland and Emeryville on Saturday, injuring no one but seriously damaging the structure and knocking out power in the neighborhood.

A similar fire wrecked the same mixed-use complex under construction last July.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the fire started around 5 a.m. Saturday and that fire crews were still tamping down the smoldering remains a day later. The burn endangered nearby homes, some due to the severe damage to a construction crane:

At least 35 residents from 15 units were evacuated from the neighboring block of Adeline Street because officials worried that the partially burned crane at the construction site would collapse. Alameda County Fire Department tweeted early Sunday that crews safely removing the crane overnight.

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This comes less than a year after another fire in the same spot. The six-alarm conflagration on July 6, 2016 also ravaged the complex in the dead of night and destroyed a crane.

“More than 100 firefighters from throughout Alameda County needed more than five hours to control the fire,” the East Bay Times reported last year. This time it took roughly 100.

Rick Holliday of Holliday Development told ABC7 he’s certain that the original fire and its sequel were arson. Holliday had even posted a pair of armed guards at the site.

No one at Holliday Development was available for comment on the arson allegation. The Alameda Country Fire department says the blaze is suspicious but the investigation is still ongoing.

Known as the Intersection, the ill-fated development is supposed to yield 105 new one- to four-bedroom homes and 25,000 square feet of retail.

The project’s site still features a sober message about the last fire, which reads:

While saddened by the fire that scarred the buildings at the corner of 39th and San Pablo, we want to take a moment and express our deep and heartfelt gratitude to all who came to fight the fire and deal with this event.

In one last strange maneuver in this story, the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association apparently smelled an opportunity and released a statement this morning urging “proactive steps to preemptively ban the use of combustible materials, such as wood, in this type of construction.”