An ostensibly safer and more regulated encampment for the homeless in Oakland experienced a fire Monday morning much like the many that have broken out in the last year in unsanctioned encampments.
The fire broke out just after 10 a.m. Monday at the Lakeview Village transitional housing complex, which sits on East 12th Street at 2nd Avenue in Oakland, near Lake Merritt. A video of the fire was posted to the Citizen app, and as Bay Area News Group reports, three of the complex's 15 tiny homes were destroyed in the blaze, and a fourth sustained some damage.
Oakland Fire Department spokesperson Michael Hunt said that five people will be displaced by the blaze, including the resident of the occupied unit where the fire began. Hunt explained that the department had already reviewed surveillance footage that suggested the individual was not inside the unit when the fire began, and that it will likely be deemed accidental.
Just after 10AM crews responded to a fire at the tiny home community at 12th St & 2nd Ave. Approx 20 firefighters contained the damage to 3 dwellings, successfully preventing the fire from reaching the other 12 units. No injures,5persons referred to Red Cross. Cause undetermined. pic.twitter.com/q3EBFlmIz6— Oakland Fire Department (CA) (@OaklandFireCA) March 21, 2022
Hunt tells the Chronicle that the blaze was contained quickly, and it "could have been much worse."
Lakeview Village was constructed in 2021 on city property, on the site of a former tent encampment, and it is intended to house between 65 and 80 individuals in prefab tiny-home units — not all of which have been constructed yet. The units, each outfitted with one or two beds, electricity, shelves, and locking doors, are meant to act as transitional housing as individuals work toward a more permanent housing situation.
A similar tiny-home village for the homeless just opened on Gough Street in San Francisco. And another tiny-home village in Oakland, containing 40 units, is under construction at Third and Peralta streets.
The Lakeview Village setup is itself temporary, as the city intends to develop this property in the coming years as 361 units of below-market and market-rate housing, a project dubbed LakeHouse Commons.
Encampment fires, the causes of which vary but which often involve makeshift cooking and heating setups, have become near weekly occurrences around the Bay Area.
A large encampment fire broke out overnight on March 1 in West Oakland, underneath a freeway overpass, which ignited and exploded several propane tanks and caused Caltrans to shut down the roadway overhead.
Last month, an encampment under an overpass near San Francisco's Glen Park saw a late-night fire erupt that killed one homeless woman and critically injured another person.