Burn Out

May 22, 2017 2:55 PM

A burnt construction crane looms over the wreckage at 3800 San Pablo Ave. in Emeryville.


By Alice Feller
Tower Staff Writer

For the second time in less than a year developer Rick Holliday’s massive Emeryville construction project burned to the ground.

The fire began around 5 a.m. on the morning of May 13, and by the time firefighters arrived had already involved all floors of the building.

“It’s devastating for the property owner and his wife,” Emeryville City Manager Carolyn Lehr said. “To wake up to this news—the same thing again at the same stage of construction.”

At 3800 San Pablo, it was close to the 580 interchange and close to BART. Holliday named his development the Intersection. The project was to include retail and high-end housing.

According to the Mercury News, some nearby residents speculated that grief over gentrification may have been a motive, if it was arson.

As with the first fire, on July 6 of last year, this fire started in the construction crane and spread to the building, which was close to being finished.

Residents in the surrounding area were evacuated because of fears that the burning crane would topple over.

Bobby Scott, who lives in senior housing across the street from the construction project, said that the heat blast woke him up when the fire started.

A ghostly wreck is all that remains of the Intersection project, after a suspicious early-morning fire on May 13. Construction was close to being finished when the second fire in less than a year burned it to the ground.

“I felt the heat in my bedroom,” he said. Other nearby residents witnessed exposed objects melting in the heat.
Large embers rained down from above as people hurried toward safety.

The next morning, firefighters were extinguishing the last of the embers. Police cordoned off a large perimeter around the scene so as to preserve evidence.

After the first fire Holliday had hired armed security guards and installed security cameras. The tape is being reviewed for clues.

Officer Yu of the Emeryville police department said that the investigation of the first fire had been turned over to the ATF and that this one would be also. The origin of the July fire has never been nailed down.

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