FISC fire under investigation
Police and fire officials are investigating the fire that destroyed an abandoned administrative building on former Naval lands behind the College of Alameda.
Alameda Fire Captain Ken Rankin said the fire is mostly out but is still smoldering in some spots of the building, which he said has not been used in at least 15 years.
“I was out there at 7:30 this morning, and you could see little wisps of smoke here and there,” Rankin said.
Alameda Fire Division Chief Rick Zombeck said a fire crew would remain on hand today to direct continued excavation efforts and to put out any fires smoldering in debris that is being removed from the building.
Rankin said police and fire officials are “pretty certain” that the fire was intentionally set. The dilapidated, graffiti-strewn building, which is about the size of a city block, had no working utilities.
Rankin said that although the building was fenced off, it had been the site of at least a half-dozen fires that he could remember over the seven or eight years he has served in the department’s fire prevention unit. He said the building was frequented by youths.
Deputy City Manager Lisa Goldman said the city is getting cost estimates to demolish the remains of the cross-shaped, wood frame building, which was once used to house medical records and as a site where some minor dental work was performed and is now a hazard.
The building is on property behind the College of Alameda that had once served as the Fleet Industrial Supply Center Annex to a similar center across the estuary in Oakland. It is set to one day become home to the Alameda Landing development.
The building that burned was reportedly slated for demolition as part of that development. But the development plans have stalled, having fallen victim to a failing economy.
Thick smoke was visible for miles from the fire for at least 16 hours after it started, at 2:12 a.m. Sunday. Fire crews took a defensive stance in fighting the fire, spraying it with aerial hoses and bringing in excavators to burrow to the fire, which was at the center of the building and, they said, difficult to reach and extinguish.
The wind carried the fire’s ashes as far as the Gold Coast, according to folks I talked with there. Zombeck said the department got reports of ashes falling all over the Island.
The fire reached two alarms and at one point drew 45 firefighters, including 24 from Alameda and others from Oakland and the Alameda County Fire Department.
The fire followed three earlier fires that were set and extinguished over a three-hour period Saturday night and Sunday morning.
Zombeck said a shelter-in-place advisory had been set early Sunday afternoon and was lifted at 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
If you’re interested in checking out some additional pre-fire photos, by the way, local photog Ben Peoples has some right here.