Firefighters continue to battle a large fire on Monday morning at a homeless encampment in West Oakland near the Emeryville border, where plumes of heavy smoke shut down nearby freeways.
At about 10:30 a.m., crews responded to the fire at 34th and Wood streets underneath the Interstate Highway 880 overpass near the MacArthur Maze, where it connects to Interstates 80 and 580.
“It’s still a very active fire,” said Oakland Fire Department spokesperson Michael Hunt.
As of 11:30 a.m., heavy smoke from the fire was blocking nearby freeways and westbound I-80 to southbound I-880 was shut down and motorists were being diverted to the Bay Bridge toll plaza. The eastbound I-580 connector was also shut down, according to the California Highway Patrol.
About 65 firefighters are on the scene battling the blaze that so far has engulfed about 20 cars, multiple RVs and has ignited about 50 yards of a large, non-operational train trestle, Hunt said.
“Right now the biggest concern is that (the trestle) may and likely will collapse based on the amount of fire on it,” he said.
Smoke from the fire can be seen for miles and the sound of explosions echoed through the neighborhood.
OFD later clarified the source of the thick black smoke caused by a creosote coating. The burnt structure is thought to be a non-operational railway flyover from the long-defunct East Bay Electric Lines. It was last remaining portion of the Northbound Berkeley arm according to one local railway historian. The homeless community had apparently been using the flyover for shelter.
We received a lot of questions today about the thick black smoke. The non-operational rail ties that burned during the incident are coated in Creosote, made partly from tar/other chemicals & creates a thick black smoke when it burns.
cc: @caroncreighton @TedrickG @carroll_fife https://t.co/oeYrSZnQfz
— Oakland Fire Department (CA) (@OaklandFireCA) July 12, 2022
Update: The fire was contained at about 12:30 p.m. and placed under control at 1:30 p.m. according to The OFD.
Feature Image: Emeryville Police Department
Since this is breaking news, we will update this post as new information becomes available.
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