Oakland and Emeryville have seen a number of residential buildings go up in flames, mid-construction, in recent years. And while a suspect has been in custody since November who's believed to be tied to at least one arson, another fire struck a residential project Thursday night in North Oakland.
Last night's fire started just before 10 p.m. at a building at Stanford Avenue and Occidental Street, near 60th. It's unclear how many units were under construction, but as Bay City News reports via a morning press briefing, Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Demond Simmons said no one was injured. The fire is under investigation and has not been determined to be the result of arson.
ABC 7's Amy Hollyfield was also at the scene, and snapped the picture below.
This is what’s left of the building that burned in Oakland last night at Stanford and 60th. It was under construction. pic.twitter.com/3X6kZ2LZpa— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) July 26, 2019
This is the third fire in the Oakland/Emeryville area and at least the tenth in the East Bay to strike at a construction site overnight since 2012.
In November, 41-year-old Dustin Bellinger, who also uses the name Faheem Bey, was arrested by Oakland police in connection to one alleged arson attempt a month earlier, on October 23. That same night, two buildings in Oakland were struck by arson, one of them burning in much grander fashion than the other.
See KPIX's report on Bellinger/Bey's arrest below.
Bellinger appeared in court in February and pleaded not guilty to the arson charge, but then earlier this month he agreed to a plea agreement, pleading guilty to a single arson charge — he's expected to be sentenced in September to at least five years in prison. Bellinger was connected to one largely inconsequential arson fire, at 3250 Hollis Street in Oakland by DNA evidence left at the scene — reported earlier as a cigarette butt and a smudge on a window sill that may have been blood.
Bellinger took the name Faheem Bey after the infamous criminal family that controlled Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland, and as the East Bay Times reports, he referred to "my brotha Antar Bey" in a 2006 court document. Antar Bey, the son of Yusuf Bey, was shot and killed in October 2005, months after assuming control of the bakery — Yusuf Bey died in jail in 2003 while facing child rape charges. Antar's brother Yusuf Bey IV then took over the bakery, and was later convicted in the 2007 assassination of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey, receiving a life sentence in 2011.
It seems investigators continue to try to connect Bellinger to the larger string of arsons — including a double-attempt at one large Emeryville property called Intersection, where an arsonist struck a second time in 2017 after the building began reconstruction after a previous arson, and this huge, four-alarm conflagration in downtown Oakland in July 2017.
The month of that blaze, federal authorities offered a $110,000 reward for information leading to the arsonist's capture, based on some grainy surveillance video of a person on a bicycle fleeing one scene.
As the Chronicle reported earlier this month, federal investigators informed the property owners at 3250 Hollis Street that despite the plea deal, their investigation remains active.
We'll update as you as we learn more.