Arson Investigation Launched as Suspicious Fires Plague Berkeley Neighborhood

Authorities in Berkeley are conducting an arson investigation following a series of suspicious fires that have left residents concerned and properties damaged. The incidents, which occurred on Oxford Street in North Berkeley over the past week, have raised alarm among community members due to the seemingly targeted nature of the fires and the limited information released by the authorities.

The first fire took place at a three-story apartment building in the 1100 block of Oxford Street on July 19 at 5:35 a.m. Fortunately, there was minimal damage as the fire primarily affected vegetation and the building's siding. However, just a few days later, another fire broke out at the same location, causing significant damage to the structure. Residents have expressed distress, with one individual stating, "The first time was bad enough. This was far worse."

Concerned about the escalating situation, residents have taken precautions such as red-tagging some units and installing security cameras to safeguard their homes. They have also called for increased security measures, urging the city to have patrols active between midnight and 6 a.m. until the perpetrator is caught. Additionally, the community member who witnessed the initial fire claimed that the culprit had poured gasoline between the buildings and deliberately set the place ablaze. Authorities reportedly found gas cans in the vicinity, further raising suspicions.

The Berkeley Fire Department and Berkeley Police Department are currently collaborating on the investigation. However, details have been scarce, leaving residents and local media outlets like the Berkeley Scanner eager for more information. Despite ongoing requests for updates, the authorities have not yet provided any additional details about the damage estimates or the overall situation.

Councilwoman Sophie Hahn, representing the district where the fires occurred, assured affected residents and neighbors that her office is closely monitoring the situation. She expressed concern for the displaced households and the damage caused to their homes. Hahn also praised the heroic actions of neighbors in alerting others and assisting in extinguishing the flames during the first incident.

As the investigation unfolds, the Berkeley Scanner will continue to update the community and provide comprehensive coverage as more information becomes available. Authorities are actively working to ensure the safety of the neighborhood and identify the source of the fires.

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