‘Explosion’ at Home Depot Homeless Encampment rattles Emeryville and West Oakland Neighbors

Published On June 6, 2018 | By Rob Arias | News & Commentary, Public Safety

Emeryville and West Oakland neighbors were rattled by a loud explosion last night at about 9 pm. A large plume of black smoke could be seen streaming from the area behind Home Depot that has been the site of several large homeless encampments.

Emeryville Police diverted cars away from the scene on the corner of Hollis and a MacArthur Freeway off-ramp. Fire crews including Oakland Engine 5 and Alameda County Engines 34 & 35 responded to the scene and quickly contained the blaze. Employees and patrons of the store were reportedly evacuated as a precaution.

Emergency crews diverted cars away from the scene on the corner of Hollis & a MacArthur on-ramp.

Occupants of the encampment could be seen this afternoon sifting through a pile of charred bike frames and other debris. Remarkably, there were no reported injuries.

While neither the Alameda County or Oakland Fire Departments have posted a cause of the explosion and subsequent blaze, a witness we spoke to said it was likely from a propane tank ignited by either an open barbecue or candle.

Facebook comments from a witness seemed to validate the likely cause. “As I passed by on the bus at about 7:45 tonight, there was some sort of propane burner on high,” noted a witness who identified herself as Rachel. “It did not look safe.”


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The area behind Home Depot has gotten so obstructed, that some bus lines are being rerouted to avoid the area. Residents of the area have gotten increasingly frustrated with the lack of response by our local governments and agencies. “This is why homelessness is a public health issue, not just a ‘get a job’ issue,” noted a follower on Facebook who identified herself as Sarah.

The area that has been hampered by jurisdictional bureaucracy as it splits Emeryville, Oakland and Caltrans’ responsibility. “It’s been chaos, we’ve been abandoned by the City of Oakland,” said nearby West Oakland business owner Bill Eason in this April ABC 7 report. “Drug dealers will drive up, and all their customers will just run. They’ll double park in the middle of the street. The customers will run up and then run back into their tents.”

Fire at homeless encampments have been an increasing issue in the area and region. Last February, a man lost his life an encampment fire near I-980.

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

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.

40 Responses to ‘Explosion’ at Home Depot Homeless Encampment rattles Emeryville and West Oakland Neighbors

  1. Rusty Sprocket says:

    This has been going on for years now at this location, and nobody is doing anything about it. It’s gotten to the point that the only way to solve the problem is to put a few industrial skips at one end, and a couple of large front-end loaders at the other, and just start raking it all in. Anybody gets in the way, arrest them. This isn’t a “humanitarian” issue any longer, as one commenter noted. This is junkie town, and it needs to be shut down now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed. The piles of blatantly stolen stuff is appalling. The sprawling filth and total disregard for health and human decency is appalling. The arrogance of the dealers is appalling. The lack of law enforcement is appalling. Get these encampments off our city streets and sidewalks now! And how about instead of handing out cash to the “hella-hungry-need-money” sign holders on the street corners, why not give them a map to all the free food and services that our tax dollars are paying for, … available just a block or two away?

  2. Dean Santner says:

    News of this explosion is sad because it was so predictable that this homeless encampment would eventually create a major problem. We understand every homeless encampment is another tragic example of what happens when drugs, lack of employment opportunities, and mental illness converge. However, lacking adequate city(s) control of any homeless encampment area, damage, theft, and general neighborhood chaos is imposed on the local tax-paying community. What will it take for Emeryville and Oakland to protect us citizens from the ongoing abuse of these illegal, yet allowed (encouraged) encampments by our local authorities?

    The issues created by homeless encampments are massive. The focus of coordinated and comprehensive city, county, and state resources are needed. Could remote camps equiped with treatment and rehabilitation facilities offer productive relief to the homeless? The rest of us who are damaged on a daily basis from these festering homeless environments would truly appreciate some positive action.

  3. Tyrus says:

    I bike through there on a daily basis and the amount of used needles strewn in the street is a major health risk. While I understand everyone has a right to life, they also have a responsibility to clean up after themselves.

  4. Fotchface says:

    As it pertains to the homelessness situation, the cities of Oakland and Emeryville are at best derelict in their duties, and at worst, incompetent bozos.

    Apparently, nothing is going to be done about this problem until heads start rolling. Maybe this event will be a watershed moment, with the tax paying, law abiding people in the community finally putting enough pressure on their leaders to force them to do something concrete by either voting them out or raising enough hell that the problem can no longer be ignored.

    • Anonymous says:

      Umm, the taxpaying citizens of Emeryville have basically written the following on their foreheads:

      “HEY PROGRESSIVE WANNABE RISING STARS, come to Emeryville, we’re so stupid we’ll agree to whatever will build your political resume. WELCOME TO A SOON TO BE SHITHOLE TOWN OF 1,000 STUPID, BUT VOCAL, VOTING RULE-ing ELITE!”

      • Sarah says:

        Yes, Emeryville’s citizenry are quite *proud* of their gullibility and seem to think it is all roses around here. If one doth dare protest, prepare to be accused of being an uncompassionate MAGA. You’ll learn to enjoy biking over needles, there is room for all of us.

        *takes another sip of koolaid*

  5. Anonymous says:

    The city should immediately remove all the charred rubbish and give the streets and sidewalks back to the tax paying, law abiding citizens, the stores and their patrons, and the local busses! No more hideous shanty towns spreading their filth and arrogant illegal activity, sprawling with blatantly stolen property and land, should be tolerated. This isn’t about money any more. It’s about law enforcement for the health and safety of the citizens. Tax paying, law abiding citizens have expectations that include keeping the community safe and healthy.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Bauters has stated that if the city of Emeryville does anything about this location, he would basically be giving the city of Oakland carte blanche to expect Emeryville to address homeless encampments on the Oakland-Emeryville border. He says Oakland is just too big and Emeryville is just this cute little town that no one takes seriously.

    It’s quite charming how dismissive our Mayor can be of our town on issues that aren’t important to him. However, he’s willing to pledge millions of our its tax dollars for he next 30 years on those that are.

    This town is screwed for good. Fortunately my equity keeps rising and soon enough I can cash in on Emeryville just like everyone else.

  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s like when you were a kid: “How many bicycles can you find in this charred picture?”

    So far, my best is eight.

  8. aaron says:

    If the .01% were not hoarding billions there would be plenty of safe housing for everyone . Blaming the homeless for being homeless , is like blaming a soldier for dying in a war.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you. Everyone else commenting needs to check their privilege.

      • DC says:

        Priviledge has already been checked off by affluent communities like Marin, Piedmont, and Alameda, and they’re onto dropping off the entire homeless population in your community.

        What it will take to resolve is organization to get funding to “humiliate” people like Libby Schaaf and prevent them from getting reelected. Libby and her cronies are signing off on new building development and raking in lots of kickbacks for themselves (look around at all the new “big developer” construction).

        The first step would be collecting before and after photos of homeless encampments and launching a very visual advertising campaign showing pictures of Libby over a homeless encampment with slogans like “Libby’s looking to make this your neighborhood next.”

        The second step, would be to look into the dirty underbelly of the “grants” given to homeless “organizations” from the city leadership. They lobby them hard, because the organization nonprofit leaders appoint their own ridiculously high salaries, while paying their idealistic, spoon fed socialist rank and file youth core barely anything to do their bidding. Check the staff parking at some of these homeless centers, you’ll find a lot of Mercedes and BMWs, just like BART station agent spots.

        The truth is nobody is drilling into where these homeless people are coming from, at least not any that aren’t Kool-Aide drinking partisans or vested interest groups. Find out where they’re really coming from, advertise that, and make it a campaign against this so-called leadership.

      • Anonymous says:

        @DC “Just throw more rich people’s money at it…”

        It worked for SF, right? Homelessness eradicated!

        People will never learn.

      • Eville Resident says:

        Keep parroting that you brain washed leftist scum

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly like “blaming a soldier for dying in a war”.

      A soldier who has walked away from the fight and died of an overdose in a tent after spending a year or two stealing bicycles from the community so he can shoot up.

      Don’t check your privilege, check your responsibility. You are not privileged for working and struggling and paying the taxes and cutting your costs and making the hard choice to go without. You are responsible.

      And because you are responsible, you have the “privilege” of taking care of those who aren’t.

      • Eric says:

        All I hear from your comment is “me me me me me.” You must be very special. Good luck with that.

      • Anonymous says:

        You live in Progressivia where being responsible is the plague. It’s for squares!

        This where people wait for the REVOLUTION where one day THE MAN shall pay for his sins and fund the land of milk and honey where we all can just give in to our laziest human carnal instincts.

      • Anonymous says:

        Eric, given that almost everyone is in the “responsible, working to get by, and not shooting up on the public’s dime” camp, what you are hearing is “us, us, us, us, us”.

        That sound of “me, me, me, me, me” you are hearing is probably coming from the people saying “look how empathetic *I*am” while enabling self-destructive behavior. Making it hard to shoot up and steal and live off of others’ and behave badly in public while also demanding that people develop individual responsibility and independence is one of the nicest things you can do for others.

        In fact, it’s pretty much what we celebrate on Father’s Day and Mother’s Day because it’s exactly what parents do for children.

    • Eric says:

      Thank you for seeing the bigger picture. It seems not many do.

      • Anonymous says:

        Good luck getting the .01% to let go of whatever it is they are hoarding.

        Rather than deal effectively with human nature you’d all rather wait for socialist utopia.

        History is doomed to repeat itself.

        This town is f*^cked.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Nice try but please explain to me how many of the 0.1% are Emeryville-related?

  10. butte says:

    I think my bike that got stolen the other night got torched.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fortunately you are in a position to get another bike, if you do not already have one. He or she that stole it from you had no other option. And now, that option is gone too. If only the rich would give these junkies more money maybe none of this would have happened.

      • Sarah says:

        I can’t even tell if this is sarcasm it is so close to the common refrain of “you’re so lucky junkies stole your bike because you can replace it so check your privledge we should just give all our money to taxes to help them because they are basically saints and soldiers and you’re just a working schmuck”. If the Eye is finally getting the sarcastic jokster crowd then thank god and welcome.

      • Anonymous says:

        Sarah, I specifically recall your similar line of logic on the MWO during a back and forth over the New Seasons debacle. I recall it went something like this (and very close to it):

        “the MWO keeps wages livable so people don’t have to break into your car to sustain themselves in this overpriced region.”

        So, it’s ok to commit theft crimes when the MWO is at issue but not when homelessness is at issue?

        You also stated that “minimum wage was not even for you to kiss someone’s behind” when I lamented on the sad service many of us receive from employees earning the highest minimum wage in the nation.

        So, perhaps maybe if we paid Bauters, Medina, Patz, and Martinez more they’d give us better service.

      • Sarah says:

        I think you are confusing me with soemone, else, depsite the quotes. I pretty much never have the thought of anyone kissing my anything. I’m also pretty anti-crime around the board and wouldn’t consider $15/hour “liveable” I don’t know what you’re point is either. I don’t know how else to say that I am not antihomeless, I am anti poor urban planning and anti not enforcing laws. Did you see the article about crime going up 90% in Eville since they passe dthe measure decriminalizing property crimes? I am “pro” public safety, basic santiation and supporting the people that enforce laws and keep residents safe. Oh, I and I am also anti the two needles, condom, and tow giant piles of human feces on park avenue right now.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, it must be a different Sarah who frequents this board to complain about many of the same issues in her neighborhood as you. Just checked the New Seasons post and you and that Sarah should get together as you sound so similar.

      • Sarah says:

        Hey Anon, I don’t care what people get paid if it means they do a good job. I don’t know why you think I would want to pay Bauters any more than he already got from contractors and what he’ll get as performer, Also, meet your new neighbor, Random Citizen. Since you hate complainers like me, the educated and employed and civically active, I’m taking my cash and moving on. But you, you now have a new buddy, incoherent and entitled, and they are being very clear about all you can do for them. Start with bringing them fire extinguishers, for the explosions yet to come, and stay for the lecture about what an ass you are. You deserve each other.

  11. Sarah says:

    Bauters figured out how to get his, so we don’t have to worry about him getting paid.

  12. Wow. If you tardcore morons could stop jackinypurself important asses off long enough to reason out obvious answers based on actually KNOWING a few of your frackin NEIGHBORS who you see behind the Depit living in camping gear and making art, fixing bikes with swapped bike parts and trading clothes bike stuff,things from dumpster diving and donation stations. How many of you asses ASSUME what you see is stollen and actually propart your smarmmy stupid asses as knowledgeable on the subject of the Curbed people’s that you can suggest sanctions for perseived alledged doings. And demand you get safety from the dangerous drug feinds who will be all fixed after some bullshit services that A,,don’t exsisting,b don’t work,and c,well isn’t C a hepetitus? You guy make me bark a bit in my mouth.

    Libby Schaff has several involvements she dedicates to regarding remedy for Citizens dwelling outdoors. She has several panels and interests activley working on what it takes to make it all work for folks. If you REALLY want answers and insist on cramming the mostly institutionalized exposed and suffered over generations whom appear in crisis, it’s from lack of OPTIONS rather thanlack of ability. I am not a communist ,or liberal,I’m not a 1percenter or occupy yimmyyanster.Im a former member of the vapud society you eminate from,a fail culture of the raised media warped over scheduled for enrichment and sheltered or secure d and slightly cheeky upwardly mobile, Reddit readers and political halfwits. You guys sound like Boarders need supremisists that get there opinions smoking bongliads with their stockbroker and snorting coke drinking smoothies with antioxidants. Let me guess, you read Reuters and Wired Mags? Moved here from somewhere else hub? Well let me tell you, most of the folks you are judging are Oakland California generational NATIVES . They are living where they are because you bought up their hometown hood,and forced them to make more sacrificial choices for survival and to remain Oakland and live by work,family,secure memories and familiar territory. No shelter will replace freedom,pride,living with life long friends together as a tribe of ancestors or provide privacy from the jerks like you,the stupid fail systems you depend on to clean up your problem, not their problem..nor will your lack of research on all the little things about what is the reality of what you know. You drive by ,you bike by, you hear this assume that,insult the people with conjecture.call them junkies when you probably pay your morgage to a bank who stole my home with money you make selling weed you grow in what was their grandma’s home of 80 years. I’m a proud middle-aged but ragitty version of my former Trust fund family in real estate local native Californian .Oakland ain’t no joke,It’s a serious place full of REAL people living with the flow and surviving on skills,cultural standards and accepted methods of living to include respect for the Hustle. If your bike really gets stollen,it’s cuz your too stupid to keep it locked up with a lick that is relivant to the retail cost of your REDICULOUSLY priced bikes.Because you are so arogant like that,and because you share little to no ties to the community,tend to take over every house,building and parking space , and can’t handle any issue no matter how small without ok googling 911, or expecting public servants who push policy to suddenly invent smart or emeadiate solutions ( your job by the way ,oh,you missed civics class to smoke a bowl and play hackiesac..)..you demand the paper pushers who take your tax money to impliment a reworked plan that never worked in all the years since black power,feminisim,Nixon,Manson or moonlanding..and then quickly make the modest homes without creature comforts like water,power,mail,heat,security,storage,insulation,privacy,fire extinguishers or cable TV, that these NEIGHBORS your investments displaced call home. You want them scooped up and delt with..?! Get THESE HOMELESS SCURGES OUT OF SITE and give their land ..yes THEIR LAND back to YOU GOOD LAW ABIDING CITIZENS? Ha!! HAHAHAHAHA! YOU IGNORANT mutha faxers..oh you see them RUN to drugdealers and RUN BACK. to their tents..first of all tents are really expensive,in fact I don’t have one and must live in a pallet hut. But the ones there are quite top drawer. If they could get address believe they’d have stuff you’ve never considered attention you would buy cuz it would out price your camping trip to Covhella. Second ftp third it is hardly ever a cooking fire. That’s like saying blondes are dumb, that Hispanics are theives and blacks are all basketball players..it’s not true,it’s ignorant and no people,are so completely retarded that they are flamable. That is what’s known as eviction , arson to get you twisted so you move. Rather it’s usually someone in a love triangle,a person who is hired to fire you or an issue of contention because the target is inconveiant or violating respectful responsibility to the common good. Arson happen to Curbside folks by Noon Curbside folk 80 percent of time,and has to do with hatred and it is not a cooking fire. That crew actually makes efforts to make their homes look homey..that’s called community standards and pride you dorks fires are sorces of warmth.its cold on the knowledge and rats also don’t mess with fire. People don’t like to disrupt the household with attention getting matters .that’s considered children’s behavior. If hustle happens it’s off site if theft it’s outta jurisdiction and personal not random,if you flaunt your vulgarity in spending a house or car payment on a bike, it’s disrespectful if you don’t sleep with your bike like a liver and more so if that kind of money goes to keeping someone’s baby’s mama with a stable home for baby while they hustle. These guys have jobs,vote,and play hard and appreciate no bullshit. If you aren’t respected or earned your place in their hood,your open game until your not. I’m not condoning it.im saying that Curbside Community’s are long-standing long-stans and culture of mixed local people desiring to stay Oakland. Don’t assume that stuff is stollen,most stuff is found or donated or gifted.yes gifts..Oakland takes care of it’s people living hard and enduring hardship. God loves the homeless..also the people are loved too. They eat out alot THATS WHY THEY ARE LIVING BEHIND TACOBELLAND PANELKA AND SUBWAY AND GROCERY,BY FOID TRUCKS AND CONVEINIANCE stores. They’re batchelors and 20 something’s. They build bikes and most have necer camped. So excuse that would you?! All I can say is if you don’t like it,get yourself involved in community that includes THEM rather than excludes them .they have to tollerate you not the other way around .
    And finally Mayor Schaff has personally come to more than a few of the Settlements inhabited by your neighbors. She personally spent an hour in a visit to my creative but made of street lumber and broken furniture and screws built house. She and I began a dialog about how to understand what we are dealing with and also what could be done and should. You all are so vapid. She is addressing these mater’s more than any polititian I’ve seen in my 50 years of being a patriot and voter. To effect real solutions for all people ,it will take some real time ,more than 6 months or even five years. To endure pooper proceedural,,know your duty as an American.K ow how government opperates and be a informed world citizen not a Yahoo soundtract for Fox news of Barney the Dinosaur. Maybe you could pay your tax deductable to the citizens to move,or to perform some act to make your hopes less unobtainable? Maybe invest in them not be so rude and judgemental but proactive with your Americans dream.
    This land is your land this land is ,MY land,
    From California to New York Highlands and golf stream waters…this land was made for You and Me..
    Read the Peamble..
    It states WE the people not you people and Me the People not he the people or she the people…WE THE PEOPLE. MEDITATE on the rest of those perfect simple words while you text Uber for a ride to the voting booth Vote for Schaff. She gives all her citizens riteous consideration. And send hate mail or money to Anyrandomcitizen@gmail. Donate to Curbed and hire locally. Quite being so stuck the hell up.
    RC.

    • Anonymous says:

      Too long.

      You need pass some of what you are smoking to your neighbors first before anyone takes you seriously enough to waste their lives reading through this.

      If you want someone’s attention, get to the point and don’t start off with your first sentence.

      • Anonymous says:

        he/she has no point.

      • Random Citizen says:

        Sorry but truth and long winded repys serve us blind ol homeless bitches as entertainment. I don’t yet have cable. But uh. Thanks for sharing up my day. Donate a laptop and read more literate posts .phone posting in the morn blind is hum lil and f*ck you I don’t smoke hippy. But I bet you do .buy an extinquishers and donate to the Curbed.
        Rc

  13. Randomcitizen says:

    You jerks probably I ended spell checker.
    And my point is you move into this area.displace locals and expect them to move away from a place they go back 4 to 5 generations.Their relatives are fro the gold Rush era . Original Oakland. They built the bay area and suffered the infliction of arrogant Privillage ignorant parasitical insiduous gentrifying.
    My point is Quit yet. It in and shut the hell up . You. Don’t own America. Only your portion of a banks note to your enslvefy inducing excess and addiction to self important disregard for those you don’t friend on Facebook crack. Maybe they. Will bulldoze your mom’s home . Most all the people outdoors that are female…Re mom’s. I’m one. Have a less self important day. Your a class is without basis.
    Still don’t see my point
    My point is shut up and donate some build books from contractors bookstore or tool gift cards or fire extinguishers to the Curbed…
    In the spirit of teaching a starving person to fish over buying a didhstick tv dinner and giving as a solution.
    These are people.
    This I’d their best eddort to survive e.
    OMG.

    • Fotchface says:

      no wonder you’re homeless, you’re borderline illiterate. keep telling people to shut up and give you things, i’m sure that’s very effective.

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