Federal investigators arrive to help determine cause of massive Oakland fire

Photo Credit: Thomas Taylor

OAKLAND (KRON) — An investigation is underway to find out what the cause of Monday’s five-alarm apartment fire in Oakland.

A fire investigation team from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives arrived in Oakland Wednesday to help determine the cause.

The fire started just after 5 a.m. Monday and destroyed a 41-unit apartment building under renovation at 317-319 Lester Ave., near Lake Merritt.

ATF is the only federal agency that investigates fires and arson.

At the request of the Oakland Fire Department, about 25 special agents and experts with the National Response Team will join local investigators to sift through debris, reconstruct the scene, collect evidence and conduct interviews, ATF spokeswoman Lisa Meiman said.

The investigation will take place over the next few days, Meiman added.

“Our highly experienced investigators conduct thorough and methodical investigations based on the scientific method. They approach all scenes with an open mind and no preconceptions,” ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge Debbie Livingston said in a statement.

“The NRT’s presence here is investigative in nature to support Oakland Fire Department,” Livingston said.

The Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Fire Investigation Task Force is also working on the investigation, Meiman said.

Flames from Monday’s blaze could be seen across the city. Crews spent hours controlling the fire and remained at the scene overnight to make sure it was out.

There were no injuries due to the fire.

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