tv ABC7 News 1100AM ABC June 14, 2012 11:00am-11:30am PDT
breaking news this overnight fire at a construction site next to the west oakland bart station created a massive transportation crisis rippling across the bay area. >> bart workers inexpecting the damage as the area sphol . electrical equipment affected. firefighters did manage to keep the flames in damaging the train tracks and the concrete structure. tens of thousands of bart riders stuck trying to find other ways to get around there was mass confusion at the oakland macarthur station. ac trance sent -- transit sent
buses. extra ferry service has been added. good morning i'm kristen sze. and i'm cheryl jennings. we have live team coverage. frances will have the traffic. mark is live at the ferry station at jack london. amy hollyfield has the latest on the fire that started it all. >> terry mcsweeney kicks things off in oakland where hopefully are things improving? >> reporter: things are dramaticly improving because bart is running here again. get on bart, stay on bart here through macarthur it will take to you 19th where people are getting off, one central location everybody can take a bus to san francisco. take a look at what it looked like out here one hour ago. we have video of a very, very long line. more than 150 people here at its peak more than 200, some people tell us they waited more than an hour.
everybody late for something or other. some told us they thought ac transit did the best they could. not everyone was so understanding. >> i've been waiting in line almost an hour now. unless the next bus is able to pick up a of people i'm going to be waiting another half hour. >> you are pushing my baby. >> reporter: 12th and broadway there was no line, no organization just a bunch of people trying get on buses as they came forward to take them across to san francisco. the buses started arriving at a trickle then ac picked up the pace brought out buses. throughout the wait there was pushing on occasion. a lot of laughing. people in the same boat, all late. as one woman said, getting upset wasn't going to get them anywhere. >> i thought it was going to be more hectic people running
and trampling each other everybody seems to be behaving like adults which i'm surprised about that. >> reporter: it was a lot of confusion, in fact the people were surging off the sidewalk off one of the lanes on broadway at 12th, very busy street, nobody injured bart police showed up for a while, hoped. it was the ac transit people doing the crowd control keeping a smile on their face it seemed to permeate the crowd nobody got too upset, a couple elbows, a couple words spoken it could have been much worse as people tried if get to san francisco. how could you get to san francisco? let's check in with frances dinslasan in the traffic center. >> of course, ac transit one of those options it has been confusing. live shot of the bay bridge toll, what you will notice is the fastrak lanes are not backed up. and you can go ahead and use
those fastrak lanes even if you don't have fastrak if you have a time violator you can go through and go to the site and sign you will get a violation notice in two weeks if you seen up before that they will backdate four transponder starting to today so you don't have to -- worry about penalties. you can see the back-up still stretches for miles. earlier we had a "sig alert" motorcycle injury crash on the bay bridge that blocked several lanes for sometime. in to that, we had a separate injury accident and -- accident and several stalls near the bay bridge toll. right now the back-up is improving. i'll show you the map of the westbound 80 still slow out of richmond towards berkeley, westbound 24 picking up out of the caldecott tunnel, traffic starting to move at 41 miles an hour, northbound 880 still
heavy but getting better. keep in mind, we have the conference, u.s. open, giants game, traffic is building up to this we could see very heavy traffic this evening if you want to head to the richmond san rafael bridge that is good to the golden gate bridge, san mateo bridge has been a popular aurlt it in it is still slow southbound 880 heading to highway 92 has improved and the drive times are improving 46 minutes to the maze as well as 32 minutes there looking better i wanted to remind folks bart trains running between san francisco and the peninsula and running within the east bay amy hollyfield isly at the west oakland bart station where it all started early this morning. -- >> reporter: and it is continuing. fire crews are still here look at the scene behind me they think they are going to be here for another several hours there was delay and they are dealing with hot spots because
of a miscommunication with pg&e. they are trying to figure out now started. the fire was huge, firefighters say it was hot, it started 2:15, 100 foot flames lit up the night. this was a building under construction going to be low income housing for seen , -- for seniors, no evacuations, no one was hurt but it destroyed the four story building, it burned bart electrical system. the system that controls their tracks. it also destroyed construction equipment, melted streetlights it was a huge fire. arson investigators think someone may have set this fire. that devastates the building's project manager who talked to us this morning. a security guard here says he saw something suspicious right before the fire started. >> there were people about who i guess aren't normally in the area, i don't have a lot of information about that. but also, again the fire
progressed so quickly that leads us to have some concerns about its origin. >> it would be awful. we are building senior housing for seniors. it is just awful. it was going to be a gorgeous building. and just add extreme value to the neighborhood. everybody puts their heart and soul into these projects to go into these neighborhoods and build something like this, it is heartbreaking. >> reporter: back to the delay and the firefight. the fire department says it took pg&e six hours to shut off the gas. firefighters were standingyoa] around and waiting they said they couldn't go in to put out hot spots because it want safe some of them were very frustrated. a pg&e spokeswoman tells us they weren't allowed in that the fire department kept them out. i asked the fire captain about that claim. she says that is not her understanding two agencies saying two very different
stories. the result, a delay in putting out the hot spots. firefighters are still here. arson investigators want your help. we have a phone number if you know anything you are encouraged to call the number you see on your screen: we'll put that number on our website in case you don't have a pen with you. 5 ten-238-4030 within. firefighters need your help on this. -- one more impact. day laborers we saw a group show up this morning, ready for work they've been working on this building since the fall they were told to go home, nothing for them to do here today. amy hollyfield, abc7 news. we want to show you how hot it got. the fire was so massive it burned this parked car melted the rear view mirror caused headlights to bubble. the side of the car closes to the fire was scorched with melted taillights, blonde out
window, flat tires the heat melted the -- >> the fire continued to burn and smoke billowed in the air. bart inspectors walking the tracks tracks taking a closer look at the section of the track closes closest to the fire. heather joins us at the west oakland bart station. >> reporter: we are showing you right now exclusive pictures from up on the platform at west oakland bart. i just got an update hoping for double track this evening at 5 is going to be maybe too much to hope for and too much of a challenge. the work involves bart workers trying to work on a third rail on the outside edge and those working more in the middle of the tracks, they are working on the electronics of the system. the electronic brain that has damaged cable that going to be the major hold-up in getting
the trains going. bart and fire department have been working side by side up on the rail. all the activity east of the platform. they are working on 350 to 400 feet of third rail warped by the heat. they have to replace 40 to 45 porcelain insulators that holds up the rail they are spread out over half a mile. also, the wild card in this in the repairs is testing of a key electronics cable the brain of the system does all the switching and if it is okay, they could have maybe opened a little bit gotten the trains going earlier it looks like that is not going to be possible. that is going to be the big hold-up this afternoon. joining us now live is bart spokesman jim allison what can you tell me about how you expect the work to do this afternoon and what commuters should expect? >> first an update. the 34,000 volt cables that you mentioned, we've been able to test those and they are
okay, good news. we are expecting to be able to meet our first goal to have single tracking early in the afternoon. having both tracks in service later this afternoon, that's a challenge but we're still hoping that we can make that. but it is a little more difficult than we first imagined. >> reporter: at this point, can you say with confidence that you will be single tracking at one or two, or still unknown? >> i think it is -- i'm fairly we have a good goal and we are not backing down from that goal we will never know until we fire up the system and aren't a train through. i think we are on track for that >> reporter: any lessons learned about having a structure so close to the tracks? was this something in the safety planning that maybe was overlooked? >> our priority is to provide safe service to our customers than is actually not bart property where that building is being constructed. we'll have to answer those types of questions in the
coming days. right now we are focused on trains running and people moving again. >> reporter: is pg&e playing a in getting the trains running this afternoon? was there a delay bart is worried about in getting the gas shut off? >> i'm in the sure about thes go i haven't checked in into. pg&e did work with us to remove two power poles in danger of fall the tracks. i think we mentioned that oakland fire was here right away and responded very well that helped if the long run by not creating further structural damage. >> reporter: jim you will have updates later? >> i will. i just wanted to show new is one of the 45 insulators. this is among the types of big jobs we are doing with this army of workers behind us. >> reporter: were these cracked and destroyed by heat? >> correct the heat cracks the porcelain they need to be replaced over a 400 foot stretch. >> reporter: this is a column holding up the rail?
>> it supports the third rail what carries 1,000 volts and the trains pick up that vol take as they travel over it. >> reporter: is that an -- easy process to get these replaced? >> heavy but not rocket science. it is hard work and it takes time but we've got an army of people working on it. >> reporter: jim allison, bart spokesman, thank you for your time. it looks like you can hope -- there's good promise they will be single tracking by one or two this afternoon. to have more than that by five or so might be too much to hope for otherwise the work is going as swiftly as it can be. heather ishimaru, abc7 news. thanks for that first look. meantime park matthews is live at jack london ferry station. how is it going there? >> >> reporter: a long line that stretched from the loading
dock that line is gone there is still a back-up. the ferry service added a company of more boats this morning to their usual service. but -- they are running them every 20 minutes, but while they've got a lot people at the water there's a back-up at the alameda ferry terminal you see boats stacked up in the estuary waiting for dock space in alameda where they are supposed to stop before they go to the san francisco ferry terminal. we talked with one of the skipper. then you will hear from passengers. >> just really crowded, it has taken longer to unload people and led 'em up than we normally do lots of traffic in the estuary today, shipping traffic slows us down we have to slow down when there's a ship or tugboats. >> i parked, took bart in tried to get a bus couldn't. then just walked here. >> taken me an hour and may have to get here.
it has been very rough. >> reporter: where are you headed? >> vancouver, british columbia. >> reporter: what time is your plane? >> not for a couple of horse, i'm hoping to make it. >> reporter: how has it been so far? >> challenging. >> reporter: putting it politely the boats are making their way as quickly as they can given the bottlenecks of the dock some of the people in line were headed to the giants game most still commuters trying to get to their jobs in san francisco, challenging is the best thing you can say about the situation this morning. mark matthew, abc7 news. we caught up with some ferry pangs from the east bay as they arrived in san francisco and they made the best of a bad situation. >> had to make a different plan tried to go through the tunnel, crazy, san francisco driving didn't look like a good idea, within to the alameda ferry, used to live there very easy, next to last
on the boat, i was lucky, about 50 people got left behind. good morning and bad morning at the same time. >> normally, i take bart every morning, ride my bike i heard there was a fire and uh-oh do we do? off we big long line i made it on there's people that didn't make it on. it is a good way to go passengers said they enjoyed the ferry they are hoping to take bart back this afternoon. >> no problems at the bay area's new ferry terminal a couple of terminal just opened last week many witnessed the crowds for the east bay ferries heading into the city so they decided to)l$& take this as an alternat. the baylink ferry has add add extra 11 a.m. departure from vallejo going to stop at at&t park for giants fans before
the ferry heads to the ferry building. >> right now a closer look at where the fire started at 7th and mandela parkway in oakland that site is -- the traffic is the flames had such a serious impact on bart service. >> commuter from the east bay getting to san francisco faced so many delays. >> you can transfer once you go san pablo. >> that was the scene a short time ago transbay terminal. ac have advisers were on hand to guide commuters to the correct bus and any connections. the line of passengers trying to get on those buses all around the brock. -- all around the . >> we have a conference starting on time, unfortunately we are not going to be on time. >> i usually have an hour and a half commute on bart and another 30 minute bus ride
today i think it will be over three hours. >> ac transit is letting commuters with bart tickets board the buses for free those with clipper cards need to have cash value loaded to pay. >> commuteers sent great photos and video to ureport. >> they tell the story from the beginning this is one of the first pictures we received it shows the huge flames on the tracks near the west oakland bart station early this morning this is where the trouble began. >> here's video from an ac transit bus moving through the macarthur maze look at the back-up buses more crowded than usual, a great way to avoid traffic. once drivers got to the toll it was smooth from there. >> ferry as you just saw another option line longer ~óiz usual to board at jack london in oakland. as you saw mark tell us, one commuter told us it was so packed that ticket takers gave
up and let people ride for free. >> here's cell phone video on the ferry from alameda to the city, the crowd big, usually smaller you can see it was standing room only there. coming up, our coverage continues on the bart transbay turmoil. >> investigators want you to call if you have information on this fire. here's that number at the bottom: 510-238-4031. we also have the number on abc7 news.com we invite you to send your pictures of the fire or traffic trouble. the fire that damaged the west oakland bart station our coverage continuing of the here's the address ureport. or you can e-mail it to us at kgo-tv.com.
>> closed captioning brought to you by mancini sleepworld. we are live breaking news overcast valley. a garbage truck you can see has crashed -- has crashed into a home this is the 44 block of kristi way that is a waste management truck. a pio public information officer with the alameda county fire department tells us that truck lost its brakes and rolled didn't the hill that the home. there were no injuries, thankfully, the truck did do
considerable damage to the home. this is bringsy way, 4400 block in castro valley. back to our -- top story, all morning long the bart transbay terminal continues because of this massive early morning fire at a construction site which damaged part of the west oakland bart station. >> our live team coverage continues. let's begin with vic lee. live in the colma station where people have been waiting to head to the u.s. open in san francisco. >> that's right. right now there is a lull between bart train arrivals here at the parking lot reserved by u.s. open photographer dean smith and i have been here since the 6:00 hour. we can tell you that every time a bart train comes here, this area is packed with golf fans. they expect around 33,000, 34,000 people to attend the u.s. open in the next four days. many will be taking bart to
the station and then to waiting shuttle buses. they walk a short distance from the situation which is 100 yards away to this tent area where they go through the checkpoint and then to the buses. most of the fans we met took at bart from san francisco or the cities between san francisco and millbrae which is the southern most stop. we did find some who came from the east bay and others who did not, but were inconvenienced by the delays nevertheless. first here's consuelo crosby who took ac transit from oakland total trip took two hours. >> they quickly got us to the transbay terminal we still had to get on another bart train and then another bart train. we are just grateful to be here and the sun is out. jeer trying to coordinate with some friends because they were come going the east bay and they are not gonna come today because of the traffic because of the fire on the bart or whatever. we are trying to find some people to take my tickets.
>> reporter: i'm sure there were a lot of no-shows from the east bay there morning because of the bart problems. they may be taking other forms of transportation. they may be taking other options. many of them, i have a feeling, may be driving to candlestick park where tears another area reserved by u.s. open where they can board shuttle buses to the golf course. i think a lot of people are taking that option. that's the latest here from the colma bart station, vic lee, abc7 news. >> now to nick smith at the walnut creek bart station. a lot of confusion there earlier. >> reporter: absolutely. a lot of it had to do with language barriers. people were walking up not necessarily standing that bart cancelled service from here to san francisco through the transbay terminal. i want to touch on something vic mentioned. on how people were looking for alternative routes to the u.s. open. within gentleman we spoke with
said he would -- one gentleman we spoke with said he would take the san mateo bridge to walnut creek. now things are dead, this morning it was a different story those making the trip to the olympic club were looking for alternatives. >> i think it will take less time to drive to candlestick park and park and their shuttle bus. >> cautious, little worried, little depressed. >> call my wife and have her come pick me up. >> we are from chico a 2 1/2 hour drive sounds like another 2 1/2 hours to get to the game. >> reporter: now the hanson family said that it if the giant do what they did last night they can get through this commute is the sign that
greets commuters letting them know that there is no service. as others have reported earlier on the newscast, they hope to have limited service this afternoon. most of the giants fans that i see over there are getting over to the city nice and early so they can see that game. we are live in walnut creek, nick smith, abc7 news. >> they don't want to miss a thing. >> stay with abc7 news throughout the day for coverage of the fire near the west oakland bart and all the transbay turmoil it caused. we'll update you throughout the day. and we are going to extend our coverage at this hour and follow up later today. don't go away, we will be back in just a moment. >> i feel like the giants fans will swim across the bay if they have.