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Lake Merritt Five-Alarm Fire Still Smoldering, Under Investigation

A day after a five-alarm blaze ripped through a controversial apartment building under construction near Lake Merritt, investigators and the developer were still puzzled as to what — or who— started the fire.

Late Monday, hours after the fire started at 317 Lester Ave. in Oakland, agents from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were called in to sift through the rubble to help local firefighters determine the cause.

There was no answer to that as of Tuesday morning. Still, the fire continued to smolder after it was reported on Monday at 5 a.m.

Massive Fire at Lake Merritt Site

The fire dashed Athan Magganas' hopes to immediately complete the 41-unit, $6-million project he said he had 80-percent completed by the time of the fire.

In an interview at the site on Tuesday, he told NBC Bay Area that he was "very sad" about what happened. "A failure has taken place." He estimated that there was millions of dollars in damage. "We don't know what the process is," he said, "or how long it will take. But we will try."

But not all neighbors were thrilled with the new units; they said the complex was too big for their residential neighborhood.

Missing Attachment A five-alarm fire that broke out early Monday morning at an apartment site under construction in Oakland near Lake Merritt, was still smoldering on Tuesday. Even a day later, investigators still don’t know how it started.Pete Suratos reports.

Neighbor Natalie Cone also said she didn't like how the previous tenants, mostly artists, were "kicked out" of their homes to pave way for the project.

"A house full of painters, performance artists, people who had deep roots in the community, and they were kicked out of that place," she said.

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