Investigators searching for cause of huge Concord construction fire

The massive fire that consumed a huge under construction apartment complex in Concord early Tuesday morning is being gone over with fine tooth combs as investigators look for a cause and, perhaps, suspects.  

It's a huge pile of debris where investigators are searching for the real answers as to why fire struck here. Today, heavy wrecking machines reduced the still smoldering, five-story, 180-unit, burned out hulk of the still under construction apartment building here in Concord. 

This is to prevent collapse that could endanger firefighters, said federal fire investigators and demolition crews. "We have made progress in suppressing the hot spots, extinguishing the remain fire throughout the building, eliminating collapse hazards," said Contra Costa Fire Assistant Chief Lon Goetsch.

This fire is suspiciously similar to other recent construction site fires. "At this time we cannot associate this fire with any other fires. We're definitely treating it independent and we need to gather more facts and information and fully investigate the fire," said ATF Special Agent Patrick Gorman.

The fire was so large that the federal ATF mobilized its National Response Team and even called in dogs from Los Angeles and San Diego to sniff for fire accelerants that might have been used in an arson. 

"We are currently in the process of collecting all surveillance footage from this local area. We definitely would appreciate any leads or information that anyone would have and if anyone has any information on this fire if they could please call it into the tip line," said Agent Gorman.

At mid-afternoon, tenants were permitted to re-enter the neighboring Renaissance Apartment complex that was evacuated the night of the fire, including Patrick and Liz Callahan and their two dogs. 

"It's been traumatic and we're thankful and we could see how many embers were just flying. It turns out a lot of them were landing on this roof. We're really fortunate that this building didn't catch fire as well," said Patrick Callahan. 

"There were two considerations. One was they wanted to make sure there wasn't a danger that anything from the construction site wouldn't fall into our building and, apparently, they're sure of that. And they wanted to make sure that the air quality was what it was supposed to be, and that passed," said Liz Callahan.