Tiny homes catch fire in Oakland

A group of newly-built tiny homes caught fire near Oakland's Lake Merritt Monday morning.

Three tiny homes were totally destroyed and another was damaged. 

Five people have been displaced by the fire. No one was injured, according to authorities.

"The house was melting. It was just melting," Tammy Riviera, a resident in the tiny home village said. Her house was completely destroyed.

Riviera said she lost her car keys, wallet, pretty much "everything," in the fire, but managed to rescue her two dogs.

"These houses aren't safe. None of this is safe," Riviera said.

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The units were designed for people who are homeless. These tiny homes, which residents moved into in mid-January, are all equipped with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, according to Lara Tannenbaum, Oakland's manager of community homelessness services.

"[We] spent a lot of time planning this community," Tannenbaum said. 

Approximately 20 Oakland fire personnel responded just after 10 a.m., managing to completely contain the fire in less than 30 minutes. 

The residents were previously living in the now-cleared Union Point Park encampment where fires were common. Riviera has suffered the loss of all of her belongings in past encampment fires, and didn't think it would happen in a site managed by Oakland's Human Services Department.

"I'm very angry," Riviera said.

Fire investigators reviewed security footage to determine that the fire started inside one of the units. The person who lived there was not home when the fire started, according to Michael Hunt, Oakland Fire Department Spokesperson. 

The structures were built in the 15-unit section for the Union Point Park community. There are plans to soon merge that section with the larger 65-unit Lakeview Village next door. Both sites are on12th Street and Second Avenue.

Site supervisors are asking other residents in the tiny home village to reduce the number of items they keep in their homes. The fire revealed many were overcrowded, Tannenbaum said. 

Tannenbaum is working with the Red Cross to help the temporarily displaced residents secure short-term hotel rooms.

"We'll make sure people have a safe place to be," she said.