5-Alarm Blaze Rips Through Building in Oakland's Chinatown

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Oakland fire crews Wednesday morning knocked down a five-alarm structure fire that broke out in the city's Chinatown neighborhood, according to the fire department.

The blaze ignited in the area of Seventh and Webster streets and quickly moved to five alarms, the fire department said. No injuries were reported.

The building that burned housed restaurants, grocery stores and a community organization for seniors. More than a dozen businesses affected by the fire could shut down for good.

"I don’t know how they are going to recoup from this," security guard Mac Moore said.

Fire investigators believe the blaze started in a dumpster near the building. Officials said it’s too soon to tell if it was an accident or arson. 

Around 8 a.m., Moore showed up to work along the 700 block of Webster Street and saw flames coming out of a dumpster.

"I just happened to come 10 minutes early. I see the fire. I proceeded to bang on everybody’s door for about two to three minutes," Moore said.

Moore said he managed to put most of the dumpster fire out, but a dangling wire caught on fire. Shortly thereafter, the roof of the building was up in flames.

The fire was contained by about 10:15 a.m., and crews remained at the scene to monitor hot spots, officials said.

"I’m really proud of our crews," Melinda Drayton, Oakland's interim fire chief, said. "It could have been a lot worse. We had spongy roof conditions, unbelievable low visibility inside, and they were able to persevere."

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