OAKLAND -- A fire at a vacant building that has long been used by political activists for squatting, meetings and events caused at least $100,000 damage, fire officials said.

No one was injured.

Officials said the fire at 656 West MacArthur Blvd. in northwest Oakland started at 12:17 a.m. Wednesday and is considered suspicious, though it has not yet been determined if squatters started the blaze at the two-story building.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The building once had commercial space on the lower level and living quarters on the upper floor above, but since 2010 a group called The Oakland Compound has used the space. The group's website said that organizers intended to develop the space for use as a neighborhood information shop, community apothecary and medicinal garden,

Oakland fire Battalion Chief Erik Logan said 20 firefighters had the fire under control at 12:42 a.m., although firefighters remained on the scene for three more hours to clean up and check for hot spots. Based on burn patterns, the fire appeared to have started in the rear of the building, where there was a lot of trash, and then moved inside, Logan said.

A flare-up at the building at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday sent fire crews back there but they had the small fire out quickly.

Follow Harry Harris at Twitter.com/harryharris15 and Kristin J. Bender at Twitter.com/kjbender.



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