Christmas tree in Oakland’s Jack London Square set ablaze

The 55-foot Christmas tree in Oakland’s Jack London Square was set on fire mere days before the city’s annual tree lighting.

At about 1:20 a.m. Monday, Oakland Fire spokesperson Michael Hunt told SFGATE, officials were alerted to a fire near Embarcadero and Water Street. A fire crew arrived in less than 2 minutes, Hunt said, as the nearest station is just 200 yards away.

“The close proximity of that firehouse to Jack London Square probably saved the Christmas tree from going up in flames,” Hunt said.

While an official assessment “of the full scale of the impact” is scheduled for later Monday, Hunt said that only 10% of the tree was damaged and that it will likely survive through the tree lighting.

“It felt like, structurally, the tree is going to make it and they’re going to persevere on with the tree lighting with the existing tree,” Hunt said.

Photos show the aftermath of the Christmas tree allegedly set on fire in Oakland's Jack London Square.

Photos show the aftermath of the Christmas tree allegedly set on fire in Oakland’s Jack London Square.

Courtesy of Oakland Fire

Investigators are looking into surveillance footage from around the scene of the fire and are currently investigating it as arson. At least one individual was spotted at the scene around this time, according to preliminary footage.

An aerosol can was found at the scene, which Hunt said was “likely a projectile that was thrown into the tree in hopes of lighting the tree on fire.”
Hunt called the attempt to set the tree ablaze was “definitely pretty shocking and really unfortunate.”

“With with so many people, for the last two years, being unable to gather safely in groups or celebrate major holidays in the way that they’re accustomed, that someone would jeopardize, you know, one of those community events such as the upcoming tree lighting, it’s really heartbreaking,” he said.

Anyone with information regarding the fire is urged to contact Oakland fire’s arson investigation line at (510) 238-4031.

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