Neighboring Residents Affected by Massive Oakland Fire

About half a dozen people get aid, comfort from Red Cross, local Buddhist charity group

The five-alarm fire at a construction site in Oakland early Monday morning caused millions of dollars in damage, and while no injuries were reported, some residents living nearby certainly were impacted.

About half a dozen people were evacuated from buildings near the massive blaze. They gathered at a makeshift emergency center set up by the Red Cross a few blocks away.

Those who fled their homes feared for their lives at first. By Monday afternoon, they were getting the help they needed, with temporary housing provided by their landlord, NBC Bay Area has learned.

One of those neighbors recalled the early-morning scene.

"We hear them saying, 'Get out, get out!' and we get up," neighbor Alsdny Soumah said. "I just grab my phone, nothing else, and we come outside, and the fire was up on me!"

Red Cross response administrator Ed Silva said the agency provides emotional support in addition to any tangible needs.

"That's what really matters," Silva said. "That's the support they get. And we do. We give them blankets. We give them water. And we give them comfort."

The nearby Tzu Chi Buddhist charity group also provided aid, just minutes after the fire started.

"We'll provide some good to them because early in the morning, they don't have food," said Al Shen, Tzu Chi coordinator. "In fact, this morning it was very cold, so we gave them blankets."

Four nearby buildings were affected by the fire, and about three or four neighboring families suffered enough damage to seek temporary shelter or housing.

For the apartment residents, property owners and insurance companies, the long process of assessing damage was just beginning.

"Meaning you can't just say, 'Well, I'm just going to replace that wall.' It doesn't work that way," fire construction consultant Tony Gonzales said. "You specify every single detail on that report."

Meanwhile, firefighters remained on the scene. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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