United States

Oakland Man Charged in Connection With Apartment Building Fire

An Oakland man was arrested Tuesday and charged in federal court Wednesday with arson-related crimes for a fire at an apartment building in West Oakland last month, according to county records.

Dustin Bellinger, 45, of Oakland, was booked at Santa Rita Jail at 8:31 p.m. Tuesday and is being held without bail, according to Alameda County jail records.

Bellinger is charged with maliciously damaging or destroying a building by means of fire or explosives, a felony punishable by a minimum of five years and a maximum 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland Wednesday.

Bellinger was arrested in connection with a large fire that broke out at an under-construction apartment complex in West Oakland in October.

He is a suspect in the blaze that occurred around 3 a.m. Oct. 23 at the Hollis Oak Apartments along Peralta Street.

That same morning, crews also responded to a fire at 1:59 a.m., at the Ice House development located at West Grand Avenue between Myrtle and Filbert streets.

The blaze rapidly grew to a five-alarm fire and caused a large number of embers to blow eastward, according to Oakland Fire Chief Darin White.

The embers ignited two more structure fires in the 800 block of Isabella Street. Oakland, Alameda County and city of Alameda fire crews extinguished the additional fires, city officials said.

Bellinger is linked to the Peralta fire in a complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court by Cynthia Chang, a special agent and fire investigator with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

According to Chang, DNA profile tests on a red-brown smudge on a windowsill at the scene connected Bellinger with the fire.

Federal authorities did not say whether Bellinger is a suspect in the Ice House fire that day, or several other arson cases involving other under-construction apartment buildings in the East Bay recently.

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