BART's Transbay Tube between Oakland and San Francisco has been shut down due to a three-alarm fire at a construction site near the West Oakland BART station.
The fire, at an under-construction senior center in a framing stage between Fifth and Seventh streets directly next to the West Oakland BART station, was reported at around 2:15 a.m., Battalion Chief Adrian Sheppard said. The fire spread to include lampposts, cars, powers poles, took down electrical wires and spread to the elevated BART tracks, potentially damaging the tracks and necessitating shutting down power to the tracks, Sheppard said.
No one was injured and no homes or occupied buildings were damaged in the blaze.
Firefighters had the fire under control at around 4 a.m. but remain on the scene investigating the cause as repair crews survey the damage. Police say that an arson investigator will consult with the fire investigator -- a standard procedure for a fire of this size.
Limited BART service is expected to resume between the East Bay and San Francisco early this afternoon. The transit agency hopes to reopen both tracks for the evening commute, albeit with a limited number of trains passing through the Transbay Tube, spokesman Jim Allison said.
For now, BART is advising commuters traveling between Oakland and San Francisco to find an alternate route of travel.
In addition to the Transbay Tube, the West Oakland BART station is closed entirely. BART has asked for mutual aid from other transit agencies to provide bus service to cross the Bay, Allison said.
AC Transit spokesman Clarence Johnson said that while AC Transit has not added any additional buses, transbay buses that would normally stop elsewhere in Oakland have been diverted to BART stations to pick up customers. However, long lines have formed in several locations in Oakland, with some commuters waiting more than an hour and a half to board a bus.
BART riders seeking to take a bus into San Francisco should get off BART at either the MacArthur or 19th Street Oakland stations, where there are staging areas for catching transbay buses, Johnson said. BART tickets will be honored today for trips to San Francisco. However, AC Transit may not be able to provide any additional buses in addition to its usual transbay service.
"We will do what we can," he said. "It's difficult for us to add extra buses because we don't have a lot of extra buses to add."
All buses from Oakland will go to the Transbay Terminal at Beale and Howard streets, and travelers from San Francisco to Oakland will be able to catch buses there to the East Bay, Johnson said.
"We do have some extra capacity on our morning commute, hopefully we'll be able to handle a lot of the load without a great deal of difficulty," Johnson said.
There is also ferry service between Oakland, Alameda and the SF Ferry Building. Casual carpool locations are also available. Commuters are advised to visit www.511.org for more regional transportation information.
-- Staff report