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Oakland Fire Causes Major BART Disruptions

BART's Transbay Tube was shut down early this morning after a three-alarm fire near the West Oakland BART station.

Updated 9:40 a.m.

Bay City News—Limited BART service is expected to resume between the East Bay and San Francisco early this afternoon, a BART spokesman said.

The Transbay Tube remains shut down this morning because of a three-alarm fire at a construction site near the West Oakland station.

BART is working to begin single-tracking trains between San Francisco and Oakland early this afternoon, and then 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.

BART has asked for mutual aid from other transit agencies to provide bus service to cross the Bay, Allison said. AC Transit buses are picking up displaced BART riders, but 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's Transbay Tube between Oakland and San Francisco has been shut down this morning due to a three-alarm fire at a construction site near the West Oakland BART station, officials said.

The fire, at a senior center under construction between Fifth and Seventh streets next to the West Oakland BART station, was reported at around 2:15 a.m., according to Battalion Chief Adrian Sheppard.

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, he said.

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, Sheppard said.

Police said that an arson investigator would be sent to the scene to consult with the fire investigator as a standard procedure for a fire of this size.

BART spokesman Jim Allison said it is too early to tell how long the Transbay Tube may be closed, and whether it may be a matter of hours or even days. He said that a preliminary examination of the tracks suggests there may not be any physical damage and that there is mainly an electrical problem, but that estimate may change.

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.

AC Transit has made some changes to bus routes to accommodate BART riders. 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 will be diverted to BART stations to pick up customers.

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 will be staging areas for catching transbay buses, Johnson said.

BART tickets will be honored today for trips to San Francisco, Johnson said. 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, it's difficult for us to add extra buses because we don't have a lot of extra buses to add," Johnson said.

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.

Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.

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