The Christmas tree in Jack London Square was torched early Monday, but may have been saved from being a total loss — though it's not clear if it will be able to be restrung with lights and used for a tree-lighting ceremony on Saturday.
An arson investigation has begun in Oakland's Jack London Square after firefighters responded to the 52-foot tree on fire around 1:30 a.m. Monday.
Firefighters from a nearby fire house were able to respond very quickly, as the Chronicle reports, and though the fire had already climbed to the top of the tree, it was extinguished in under five minutes. It's estimated that only 15% of the tree suffered serious damage — though it was already strung with lights and ornaments. A photo from the Oakland Fire Department below looks kind of grim.
An arson investigation is underway in Oakland, after someone torched the large Christmas tree at Jack London Square. The vandals struck ahead of this week's tree lighting ceremony in Jack London. https://t.co/Hx7afcCrrT pic.twitter.com/daPGuzgofR— KTVU (@KTVU) December 6, 2021
Underneath the tree, fire department investigators found an aerosol can and a lighter that were likely used in the torching.
KTVU is sponsoring in the Saturday tree-lighting event in the square, and they report that there's still no word on whether it will go on as planned — or if the tree needs to be replaced.
Someone torched the Christmas tree at Jack London Square overnight, apparently using a spray can and lighter to set it on fire, @OaklandFireLive tells me. The tree was partially engulfed and flames went all the way to top. @oaklandpoliceca @OaklandFireCA arson team investigating pic.twitter.com/ZnP623aKVk— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) December 6, 2021
Update: The East Bay Times reports that organizers of the tree lighting plan to move ahead with the damaged tree — I guess this will be a "don't look at the back of the tree" situation. And police have surveillance video that appears to show a suspect on a bicycle throwing the aerosol canister at the base of the tree.