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Fire in Oakland Shuts Down Transbay BART Service, Hundreds of Thousands Stranded

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A West Oakland senior residence under construction caught fire early Thursday morning.  (Hector Salazar)

If your morning commute included a trip across San Francisco Bay on BART, you probably had to make alternate plans. An early-morning fire at a building near the West Oakland station crippled service at the point where four BART lines enter the Transbay Tube. An accident close to the Bay Bridge metering lights has also led to back-ups on I-80.

In some ways, the fire couldn't have happened in a worse spot -- West Oakland is the station where BART trains leave the East Bay for San Francisco. It's unclear how long it will take crews to get the tracks cleared, although officials hope to get service restored after the morning rush.

The fire began at about 2:15 a.m. this morning at a three-story senior residential building under construction. PG&E had to come shut off a gas line before firefighters could begin their battle.

Battalion Chief Lisa Baker says it's too soon for investigators to move in.

"We're still at this time putting out hotspots, and we need a structural engineer to tell us actually if the cement parking garage is safe at this point," she said.


No one was hurt in the three-alarm fire.

4:19 p.m.: BART has restored limited service. BART will also run an extra hour of direct service on the the Fremont to Daly City Line tonight.

3:40 p.m.: BART is currently sending eight test trains through the tube. BART officials say that they will run trains at a reduced schedule beginning at 4 p.m., and will resume full service for tomorrow's morning commute.

2:46 p.m.: BART says that it will be up and running at 4 p.m. today. AC Transit will also deploy an extra 20 buses between the San Francisco Transbay Temporary Terminal and the MacArthur BART station beginning at 2 p.m. Fares will not be collected.

1:52 p.m.: BART tweeted that it plans to resume service at 4:00 p.m.

12:34 p.m.: The California Report Senior Producer Ingrid Becker hopped on a ferry with about 600 people this morning. While there were some disgruntled commuters, many were Giant's fans were simply happy to have a way of getting to this afternoon's game.

Mark Ayers hopped on the ferry at Jack London Square to get to the Giants game with his young son and a friend. They decided on the ferry instead of BART after learning of the fire.

"It's been a breeze, it's been fantastic. We thought we were going to stand in line for hours and we were in line for 15 minutes. We're cruising across the Bay and it's a beautiful day, the kids are loving it and we're ready for a big Giants game!"

10:13 a.m.: Ernest Sanchez, manager of transportation services for the Water Emergency Transportation Authority, says that the ferry service is handling four to five times the amount of passengers than normal. They added several extra boats this morning to help handle the influx of commuters. Sanchez added that boats are full taking passengers back across to the East and North Bay.

Ferries take Clipper Cards and cost $6.25.

8:37 a.m.: AC Transit is pitching in to help travelers stranded by this morning's BART disruption. The bus line says it will accept BART tickets this morning en route to San Francisco outside the 19th Street, Fruitvale and MacArthur stations in Oakland. Expect long lines.

As for BART service, trains on the Fremont-Daly City line and the Pittsburg/Bay Point line (on the East Bay side) are turning around at Oakland's 12th Street Station. The Dublin-Pleasanton line turns around at Bay Fair.

Planning an alternate route:

  • Transbay bus services, AC Transit says that it will accept BART tickets at the 19th Street, Fruitvale and Macarthur stations in Oakland.
  • Ferry services between Oakland, Alameda and the SF Ferry Building. The service added extra boats this morning, and is adhering to its normal schedule.
  • Casual carpool
  • Updates and trip planner on 511.org. Just be sure to turn off the BART option in the planner by clicking "Additional Options" and selecting BART in the Exclude column.

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