OAKLAND -- A fire near the West Oakland BART station earlier this month that shut down the train system for a day has been ruled arson, federal investigators said Thursday.
Investigators declined to release details on specific evidence that led them to the arson ruling because the case remains under investigation. No one was injured in the three-alarm blaze and no one has been arrested.
"We are committed to working this investigation with our fire and law enforcement partners to ensure the public's safety while trying to determine who is responsible for setting the fire," said Jeffery Vind, acting special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' San Francisco field division.
Investigators said the early-morning fire on June 14 at the construction site of the five-story Red Start Senior Apartment complex caused at least $25 million in damage.
Just minutes before the 2:15 a.m. fire, a security guard at the site on Fifth Street and Mandela Parkway was threatened by three men and forced to flee, the guard's employer said.
The site remains off limits while the probe continues.
Flames about 100 feet high enveloped the building's wood framing, and the heat from the fast-burning blaze was so intense that several nearby streetlights and signs melted. The blaze also badly damaged BART insulators as well as communication and electrical cables and track-side equipment, a BART spokesman
The blaze caused a morning commute nightmare and snarls on the evening commute as some 180,000 people scrambled to find alternative ways to get across the bay.
Other transportation agencies stepped in to help, with AC Transit adding more than 30 extra buses and three additional ferries, most free to riders. BART worked for more than 10 hours and replaced a nearly 400-foot section of the third rail outside the station.
BART reopened the system about 3:45 p.m. June 14 after sending several test trains successfully through the Transbay Tube. The Oakland Fire Department, the Alameda County arson task force and the Oakland Police Department assisted with the investigation, ATF officials said.
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