Burned Concord building demolished as investigation continues

Crews are demolishing the fire-ravaged downtown Concord building that burned Tuesday and an investigation into the cause is proceeding “full speed ahead,” a fire official said this afternoon.

Fears that the ravaged building might collapse delayed the investigation and efforts to fully extinguish the fire. Both are now underway, said Fire Marshal Robert Marshall, spokesman for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.

However, residents of the unscathed building next door, the first phase of the Renaissance Square apartments, still can’t go home and there’s no estimate as to when they might be able to do so, Marshall said.

The three-alarm blaze caused about $55 million in damage and sent two people to the hospital with smoke inhalation injuries as it ripped through a nearly three-acre site with 180 buildings under construction around 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Marshall said:

“Demolition is well underway. [Crews] have knocked the buildings down … We are bringing in additional crews now to get rid of the hotspots and the smoke.”

Two streets in the downtown Concord area are still closed as work continues at the site and are expected to remain closed for the foreseeable future, according to Marshall.

Willow Pass Road and Concord Boulevard are closed for the three blocks between Galindo and Sutter streets.

The building under construction that burned is said to have been roughly 60 percent completed, with exposed timber framing and no sheetrock to prevent the spread of the fire, making the blaze similar to others that destroyed apartment complexes that were under construction in Oakland and Emeryville in 2016 and 2017.

Those fires were determined to be acts of arson and the ATF announced in July a $100,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest and conviction.