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Apartment Construction Site Fires Plague California Bay Area 

Posted by Chris O' Rourke on Aug 2, 2018

Apartment Construction Site Fires Plague California Bay Area

The City of Oakland, California is offering a $300,000 reward for information about a string of apartment construction site fires in the area. There’s a similar pattern to the fires that leads investigators to believe they were all caused by the same person or group of people.

One of the first incidents happened in 2016 between Oakland and Emeryville, California. The fire was started in the middle of the night and destroyed a crane, along with the buildings themselves. More than 100 fire fighters were at the scene. Less than one year later, a similar construction site fire ravaged the same complex. One of the cranes at the construction site was partially burned. Officials were worried that it would collapse, so they instructed 35 residents from a neighboring block to evacuate. The crane was safely removed. One of the members of the development company for this mixed-use property said he is certain both fires were arson. He also stated there were two armed guards at the site.

Another apartment construction site fire occurred two years later and just three months prior to the most recent incident. A national response team with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the property to determine what caused a three-alarm inferno. The flames torched the 180-unit apartment, leaving the building structurally unstable. Burned scaffolding that rose multiple stories fell over and landed on parked cars in the street. The total loss was estimated at $55 million USD.

All these incidents occurred in the middle of the night, making it easier for arsonists to go undetected. Additionally, because of the nature of the property, a construction site provides many hiding places and houses a multitude of flammable materials. As a result, a small fire can develop into something more dangerous in a matter of seconds.

What can you do to help protect your construction site? Many properties use an on-site security guard, but this may not always be the best option. A security guard often has limited access to certain areas on a construction site, not to mention a more difficult time seeing everything because of low light. A third-party video monitoring service can help. Trained construction-site security operators watch properties in real-time via strategically-placed cameras. The cameras are equipped with video analytics software that will automatically notify operators of any unauthorized activity like trespassers, smoke or flames. This gives them the ability to watch multiple locations at the same time. Thermal imaging cameras that detect heat can also be used to help deter damage.

Apartment construction sites are vulnerable to a variety of threats, all of which can have costly consequences. If you would like additional information about a customized construction security contact us here.

Image Credit CBS5