Suspected Arson Fire on Briggs

Eric J. Kos

Alameda Police investigate the arson-related crime scene on Briggs Avenue last Wednesday.

It took two alarms and more than two hours for firefighters to bring an apartment fire at a fourplex on Briggs Avenue under control on Wednesday, Nov. 27. The first alarm came in at 2:47 a.m. crewmembers from the Alameda Fire Department (AFD) arrived on scene three minutes later to find the apartment's second floor and roof in flames.

After a second alarm sounded, some 40 firefighters were on scene. Firefighters from Alameda County and the city of Oakland arrived to provide mutual aid — some at the fire and others covering Alameda's four fire stations in the event another fire broke out.

Firefighters rescued David Prado, 45, who was trapped on a second-floor balcony. Witnesses said that others had jumped from the second floor to get away from the flames. Prado remained on the scene and admitted to reporters that he started the fire. "I'm the one who started it," he said with cameras rolling and reporters at the ready.

Prado's fellow residents at the building told reporters that Prado had recently flooded his apartment and had just been released from Alameda County's John George Psychiatric Hospital in San Leandro.

"I am not crazy," Prado said. "They try to make me think I am." Alameda Police (APD) later arrested him on suspicion of arson.

Firefighters worked aggressively to keep the fire confined to the upper-floor units and attic. They finally brought it under control at 5:06 a.m.

Investigators have yet to announce that they have determined the cause of the fire. They would only say that they consider it "suspicious." Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the structure where the fire started.

"The suppression effort of our firefighters was made difficult due to a construction feature in the building," AFD Capt. Jim Colburn said. "The floor of the attic was plywood, making access to that area very challenging.

Our firefighters were successful in keeping the fire confined to the upper units and attic."

The fire did not injure any civilians, but paramedics transported one firefighter to Alameda Hospital who was suffering from heat exhaustion. According to Colburn, the blaze also injured four other firefighters.

Investigators have estimated the damage to the structure and its contents at $800,000. The Red Cross stepped in and helped the seven people the fire displaced.


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