OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland firefighters were called to a fire that broke out underneath the Lake Merritt Boulevard overpass near the Kaiser Convention Center and 1200 Lakeshore Avenue.
Fire crews say they got the call about 7:30 p.m. When they arrived they saw flames and thick clouds of smoke billowing from under the roadway where one man told KTVU that he had an encampment.
"Had tools, had hundreds of dollars in art materials. I had collectible monies, I had ritual items," said Cymone Thomas, who added that he had been working on an art project at the site. Thomas said he did not start the fire and believes some other people living in the area might have sparked it.
Police shut down the bridge while 22 firefighters, four engines, and a truck worked to put out the fire.
Video from the Citizen app shows the fire's intensity as it broke out. Fire officials said the fire was difficult to access.
Structural engineers were called to the area to inspect the bridge.
Charred possessions were visible underneath the overpass. The sight of thick-black smoke from the fire was cause for concern to many area residents.
"Whether they're housed or unhoused, definitely our hearts go out to them because we care about everyone and we care about their property," said Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Tracey Chin, "Right now, we're looking into whether the individual would like any additional housing opportunities and if there's anything we can do as a city or department to help him."
Fire officials said there were no injuries from this fire, including the man whose possessions burned.
Some neighbors said they were concerned about the number of fires at homeless encampments in Oakland.
Fire investigators are looking into the cause of this fire.
Chin says fire crews made sure not to use fire-fighting foam to avoid introducing are environmental concerns since the fire happened so close in proximity to the estuary.
Fire crews called for a city inspector to check the bridge and said they did not see any serious structural damage to the pillars.
Firefighters remained on scene to monitor hot spots and ensure there were no flare-ups.