Oakland firefighters battling a 2 alarm vegetation fire near 35th Avenue and Delaware Street. Credit: Azucena Rasilla

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?”

Azucena Rasilla is a bilingual journalist from East Oakland reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.

Before joining The Oaklandside as News Editor, Darwin BondGraham was a freelance investigative reporter covering police and prosecutorial misconduct. He has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was a staff writer for the East Bay Express. He holds a doctorate in sociology from UC Santa Barbara and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He is also the co-author of The Riders Come Out at Night, a book examining the Oakland Police Department's history of corruption and reform.