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Arson investigation underway after intentional Christmas tree fire in Oakland’s Jack London Square, official says

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) – The annual Jack London Square tree lighting in Oakland is scheduled to take place on Saturday night, despite someone setting the tree on fire overnight.

With less than a week before the official lighting ceremony, the already decorated Christmas tree is now part of an arson investigation.

The Oakland Fire Department said someone set the tree on fire around 1:20 a.m. Monday.

Firefighters are about 200 meters away and have arrived and extinguished the fire within minutes.

“It certainly could have been a much scarier scene if it had taken the team longer to get there,” said Michael Hunt, spokesperson for the Oakland Fire Department.

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Hunt says surveillance footage shows one person set the fire. They left a cartridge, although Hunt declined to specify what type.

“It’s very clear that this was put together on purpose and a very dangerous scene for everyone involved,” Hunt said.

Less than 10% of the tree has sustained significant damage and the tree is structurally sound with no risk of falling at this point, according to firefighters.

He says the plan is to either fill in the sections that have been burnt or cover the sections so that the tree lighting on this Saturday can continue as planned.

“The fact that someone could potentially compromise that and jeopardize the ability for people to gather in common areas safely is a really frustrating moment right now,” Hunt said.

The Fire Department is coordinating its investigation with the Oakland Police Department.

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