Around 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oakland firefighters responded to a two-alarm vegetation fire in the brush along the westbound I-580, between 35th Avenue and Coolidge Avenue. Crews doused flames that threatened homes along Delaware and Maple streets. No structures were damaged as the fire was put under control quickly.
According to Oakland Fire Department spokesperson Michael Hunt, the fire was actually “three unique, different fires burning” in distinct locations on the hillside along the highway.
Hunt said that there was no evidence of homeless camps in the areas where the fires ignited.
Tuesday’s fire broke out in the same general area as last Friday’s four-alarm fire on 35th Avenue that damaged multiple structures, injured one firefighter, displaced over a dozen residents, and caused a widespread power outage. Friday’s fire also happened in an area where there was no recent evidence of people camping.
Neighbors who gathered on the sidewalks Tuesday evening to watch OFD extinguish the latest fire said they were concerned about a possible arsonist.
OFD confirmed these fears shortly after crews left the scene.
According to OFD Batallion Chief James Bowron, an investigator with the department found three roadside flares along the highway where the fires started. OFD’s investigative unit is working with CHP on the case.
The cause of Friday’s fire remains unclear and it is still under investigation.
Both fires have residents of the Laurel, Allendale, and Lower Dimond neighborhoods on edge.
“Because of the fire last Friday, we were really scared when we saw the smoke,” said Jia Zhang, who lives in a duplex directly facing the overgrown vegetation where Tuesday’s fires broke out.
Zhang’s cousin Yuan Ye said that her mother called her when the fire broke out and asked her to alert the fire department. Ye said the brush along the freeway is very dense and the fence and a gate that’s supposed to keep people out have been broken for a while now.
“Do we have to cut the vegetation ourselves? We don’t know how to call Caltrans,” Ye said. “And if we call, they are going to have us listen to music and not be able to talk to anyone?”