Just days before the yearly tree lighting in Oakland, its 55-foot Christmas tree standing in Jack London Square was set ablaze.
In a talk to SFGATE, Oakland Fire spokesperson Michael Hunt said that they received a fire alert near Embarcadero and Water Street at around 1:20 on Monday morning. He said that a fire crew from the station located 200 yards away have reached the area in less than a couple of minutes.
“The close proximity of that firehouse to Jack London Square probably saved the Christmas tree from going up in flames,” he said.
Only 10 percent of the Christmas tree was burnt, Hunt said, although the official assessment “of the full scale of the impact” is set for later Monday. The tree will probably last through the lighting event.
“It felt like, structurally, the tree is going to make it and they’re going to persevere on with the tree lighting with the existing tree,” he said.
Surveillance footage from around the area is being subjected to probe, as investigators look into the possibility of arson.
Initial footage revealed at least one person was seen at the scene when the fire happened.
Hunt said an aerosol can was also discovered in the area that was “likely a projectile that was thrown into the tree in hopes of lighting the tree on fire.”
The attempt to burn the tree was “definitely pretty shocking and really unfortunate,” he said.
“With so many people, for the last two years, being unable to gather safely in groups or celebrate major holidays in the way that they’re accustomed, that someone would jeopardize, you know, one of those community events such as the upcoming tree lighting, it’s really heartbreaking,” Hunt said.
The fire arson investigation line of Oakland at (510) 238-4031 is open to anyone with information in connection to the incident.