3800 San Pablo project succumbs to blaze for second time in less than a year

Published On May 13, 2017 | By Rob Arias | News, News & Commentary

The residential project at 3800 San Pablo Avenue dubbed “The Intersection” succumbed to a massive blaze this morning. This was the second time in less than a year that the project was the victim of a fire. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries.

Firefighters first responded to the scene at 4:58 a.m. and reported containing the blaze
 by about 6:30 a.m.. Once the blaze was contained, representatives from the crane contractor began assessing the stability of their mangled piece of equipment that towered over the wreckage.

The previous 6-alarm fire occurred less than a year ago on July 6th. This was a 5-alarm fire. Both incidents occurred in the early morning.

Embers from the blaze reportedly sparked some minor grass fires in vacant lots and at least one home two blocks away.

Despite escalated security and video surveillance, early enough warning was not provided to prevent the blaze from engulfing the $35 million housing project. The familiar site of twisted cranes and scaffolding could be seen amid fire crews and dissipating smoke.

Chronicle Reporter Sarah Ravani‏ noted that nearby residents were being evacuated because officials were worried the construction crane may collapse.

The July 6th fire caused damage to adjacent properties including some townhouses, an auto repair business and the facade of the new development on 3900 Adeline.

Nearby businesses Monster Pho and Scarlet City were not directly impacted, but both closed for the day. Nearby businesses have been banking that this development and others would bring more pedestrian thoroughfare that could provide a boost to business activity. Scarlet City in fact opened early to help accommodate emergency crews.

Arson was suspected and investigated by the ATF in the previous incident, and it would have to cross the minds of most this time around. Projects Developer Rick Holliday confirmed his suspicion when contacted by the SF Chronicle. “This is obviously arson,” he told them, clearly frustrated. “This is an attack on housing.”

Motives for any arson are unclear, but the project’s approval was not popular with some housing advocates because it didn’t contain units designated “affordable” or “family-friendly.”

A rendering from when the project was approved in 2013.

The project was to be the cornerstone of a revitalized San Pablo “Star Intersection” but one has to wonder where they go from here. The developers, Holliday Development, are responsible for many local projects including The Emeryville Warehouse Lofts, Blue Star Corner and West Oakland’s Pacific Cannery Lofts.

Alameda County Fire, whom Emeryville contracts fire services from, noted that the cause is under investigation and that the site would remain under watch for the next 24 hours.

The Emeryville PD provided a press release noting that traffic in the area would be impacted until the investigation is completed. The streets currently closed to traffic are:

  • San Pablo Ave between 37th St and 40th St
  • Adeline St between 36th St and Yerba Buena Ave
  • 39th St between Adeline St and Market St
  • Apgar St between W. Macarthur Blvd and Market St
  • W. Macarthur Blvd between Emery St and Market St.

Since this is breaking news, we will update this post as new information becomes available.

Feature image: @ChiefTejada via Twitter


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About The Author

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who moved to Emeryville in 2003. A new parent in the community, he can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood, traversing the greenway on his bike or enjoying his favorite Emeryville small businesses. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

3 Responses to 3800 San Pablo project succumbs to blaze for second time in less than a year

  1. Charles Black says:

    Is there any sort of explanation as to how the fire was able to get so intense and so big? I mean it seems like it just goes up in intense flames. Does anyone know when it might have started to begin with? How long did it take to get to the point of the pictures with the project engulfed in flames.

    I assume one or both security guards saw the fire and called it in. Is it because it was all wood? I haven’t read of anything used like gas, etc. Just curious.

    • Rob Arias says:

      Thanks Charles. The ATF did not confirm the use of any “accelerants” like flammable fluids or if the arsonist must have had knowledge of the vulnerable state of the project in its framing state … but it seems both are likely. The timestamp says about 2:24 and the fire was started about 2:45 and crews responded at about 4:58.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where were you at 2:24 am. I saw you at a bar earlier that night and you were talking smack about the complex.

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