Large fire at performing center and school in Oakland

An early morning fire destroyed an Oakland school and recreation center. Fire inspectors search for a cause to the fast-moving fire that completely engulfed the Mosswood Performing Arts Center on Webster Street before fire crews had arrived.

“This was the front classroom and right behind it was the classroom where I used to work,” said former Mosswood Performing Arts Center teacher LaTarsha McCoy.

McCoy was known as ‘Miss T’ at the Center. The charred frame of the classrooms is all that stands Saturday morning. The roof collapsed, the floor boards fell through, and you could see through one side of the building to the opposite side of the park.

“Someone who knows how much I care about Mosswood, sent me a text early this morning saying she was really sorry to hear about Mosswood,” said McCoy.

“And I was like, ‘Wait! What happened?”

Oakland Fire Department’s battalion chief Zoraida Diaz said crews were called to Mosswood Park just before 5:30 am.

When the first crews arrived, the recreation center was fully engulfed in flames. The fire was intense and spread quickly throughout the multiple rooms.

Another challenge firefighters had was preventing the flames from crossing over to the historic Victorian house, built in 1864 and now owned by the city. The Mosswood House was saved.

Battalion chief Diaz said the fire likely started in the back of the building, but it took nearly three hours before crews could go inside to investigate.

Oakland Police officers said the park has a large transient population, but no one was seen in the park when fire and police crews arrived.

“My kids all went to preschool here,” said German Goyena, who walked from his house to see the damage. “

My oldest was the first; he’s 26 now. When he was three, he was the first we had to let go of. Those are the windows we looked through before his first day of school.”

Oakland Public Works will head the initial clean up and will be placing a fence around the school building.

McCoy said seeing her former school hurts her heart, but she’s grateful that’s all the is gone.

“I’m glad that people are okay. No one got hurt,” said McCoy.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. City workers came to survey the damage, but could not provide information on the status of classes held at the Mosswood Performing Arts Center.