SDFD Sends K-9 Arson Team to Assist in East Bay Area Apartment Fire Investigation

A one-man, one-dog arson team is headed to the East Bay Area to assist in an investigation at the scene of a 3-alarm apartment complex blaze that damaged a 180-unit building still under construction.

K-9 Emily and her handler, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) Captain James Shadoan, were deployed to Concord as part of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms & Explosives National Response Team.

The fire sparked at the unfinished building at around 1 a.m. Tuesday and forced 250 residents of a nearby complex to evacuate their homes. The loss is estimated at $55 million.

"This is the largest fire in memory here," Concord Mayor Edi Birsan said. "Fifty-five million dollars is a substantial amount and will be an impact on the city."

Hours after firefighters had the blaze contained, a wall of scaffolding five stories high along the building collapsed and crushed at least three cars.

Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said there is a concrete parking garage at the center of the fire site. The wooden, under-construction apartment building wrapped around the garage is what caught fire.

"Because of the stage of construction that the building was in, the fire spread very rapidly through all portions of this structure that was under construction," Marshall said.

It is not clear at this time what sparked the blaze. Emily and Captain Shadoan will assist in the investigation which is expected to last several days, according to fire officials.

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