Oakland FD investigating apparent arson incident involving 52-foot-tall Christmas tree

Preliminary evidence suggests a person threw a canister at the base of the tree in the city's Jack London Square


George Kelly and Harry Harris
East Bay Times

OAKLAND, Calif. — Firefighters and police were investigating an apparently set blaze that damaged a 52-foot-tall Christmas tree early Monday at Jack London Square, authorities said.

At 1:20 a.m., firefighters at the nearby Oakland Fire Department firehouse on Water Street responded to the blaze in the square at the foot of Broadway, Oakland Fire spokesman Michael Hunt said. The station is about about 200 yards away from the tree's location.

Preliminary evidence gathered by investigators appears to suggest a person on a bicycle threw a canister at the tree's base before riding away.
Preliminary evidence gathered by investigators appears to suggest a person on a bicycle threw a canister at the tree's base before riding away. (Photo/Oakland Fire Department)

Two engines arrived on scene within two minutes and found flames burning at the base of the tree's rear within ten minutes, Hunt said.

Flames damaged about 10 percent of the tree. Organizers who assessed the tree Monday plan to carry on with a planned lighting ceremony Thursday.

Police and fire investigators met Monday afternoon with Jack London Square security officials, and were working to review surveillance-camera footage.

Preliminary evidence gathered by investigators appears to suggest a person on a bicycle threw a canister at the tree's base before riding away. That person's identity has not yet been established.

At the square Monday afternoon, onlookers expressed measures of disbelief and displeasure, verging on the profane, about the suspect's actions.

Anyone with information on the incident may call Oakland Fire arson investigators at 510-238-4031.

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(c)2021 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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