Investigation Underway Into 4-Alarm Construction Site Fire

After a precarious crane was brought down on Saturday, some evacuations have been lifted and an investigation is underway into a massive blaze that destroyed an under-construction complex near Lake Merritt in Oakland on Friday morning.

The four-alarm fire was reported shortly before 5am on Friday at a six-story building on Valdez Street near Grand Avenue. The fire left a crane at risk of collapse and damaged surrounding buildings.

The crane was taken down as of Sunday evening and some evacuations were lifted, but residents of two buildings remained unable to return to their homes at 2343 Waverly Street and 2346 Valdez Street.

Also on Sunday, the city placed a new building under evacuation order at 180 Grand Avenue until it can be inspected for damage from falling glass and debris. Traffic remains restricted in the area due to the possibility of falling debris.

The Red Cross had been operating an emergency shelter for evacuees but it was closed as of Sunday. Remaining evacuees are being housed in hotels provided by the developer, Wood Street Partners, and the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, according to the city.

A separate assistance center has been established at the Red Cross offices at 3901 Broadway. Any impacted residents still needing assistance can go there or call (510) 595-4441.

The building, called the Alta Waverly, was planned to be 196 market rate apartments and up to 31,500 square feet of retail space.

Rendering of the planned Alta Waverly building | Via Pyatok

Coming on the heels of another large fire at a construction site on the Emeryville border which was determined to be intentionally set, Friday's fire immediately drew suspicions of arson.

But the cause has yet to be determined and the investigation has barely begun as it had been unsafe to enter the site until Sunday evening. 

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office as well as the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation, as is typical for such large and destructive fires.

Not only were the flames visible throughout Oakland, the fire was so hot—more than 1,145 degrees Fahrenheit—it was detectable from space, according to the National Weather Service. 

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Investigation underway into 4 alarm construction site fire