Fresh details on Landing fire
Fire Chief David Kapler offered fresh details on that huge Alameda Landing fire to the council the other night, including the steps that he said the fire department took to ensure residents whose homes were blanketed by the smoke and ash spread by the March 29 fire were safe.
Kapler said the department called in folks from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Alameda County environmental health department to sample the air in the area adjacent to the fire which was blanketed by thick brown smoke. He said the air quality management people found no evidence that lead or asbestos, both of which were in the former Navy administrative building that burned, was in the air. (It doesn’t sounds like they have tested the contents of the ashes people were finding in their yards, though Kapler said asbestos doesn’t burn and that it wasn’t in the air. But one commenter who posted on one of my earlier fire posts said the opposite.)
Still, Kapler said the department issued a “shelter in place” advisory for folks who are about a mile east of the site as a precautionary measure, and that firefighters notified folks at the Mariner Square Health Club, Cardinal Point senior residences, the Extended Stay hotel and nearby residents of the advisory in person. They also got the word out through the local media, he said.
He said the city has a notification system but that it wasn’t used because it’s old and slow. Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant said the auto-dialing system, which is a decade old, could be replaced.
Firefighters had responded to three smaller fires on the night of March 28 and early morning of March 29, but all three put themselves out, Kapler said. He said residents of the Oakland Hills were the first to report the big fire, at 2:12 a.m., and that Oakland firefighters were called to what they thought was the scene – Jack London Square.
“When they got (there), they realized there was no fire,” Kapler said. “But they could see it across the estuary.”
Alameda, Oakland and Alameda County’s fire departments were all called out to help extinguish the fire at the abandoned, dilapidated building, which burned for over a day. Fire crews, who have been on orders not to enter the building, worked to douse the fire from massive hoses mounted on aerial ladder trucks. They also brought in excavators to burrow their way into the building toward the fire.
City officials said last week they were getting estimates to tear down what’s left of the building, and fire investigators were trying to find out who set it. They said the building, which was surrounded by a chain-link fence, was a popular hangout for youths.