Habitat for Humanity home burned down

A vandal is believed to have started a fire this morning at the front door of an East Oakland home set to be dedicated to a family of four in a ceremony Saturday, Habitat for Humanity East Bay director of development Krysta Morgenthaler said.

The fire was reported at about 4:30 a.m. by a security guard watching a development of 20 Habitat for Humanity homes on Edes Avenue, Morgenthaler said. The development will eventually contain 54 Habitat for Humanity homes built by potential homeowners and community volunteers, she said.

The dedication ceremony Saturday, in which 12 families will be given keys to their new houses, will not be postponed, Morgenthaler said.

However, she said the family of four scheduled to receive the key to the two-story house damaged by the fire will not be able to move in as scheduled.

Fire crews responded to the blaze early enough so that only the front entrance of the house and front door were burned. But smoke damage and soot spread throughout the rest of the home and will have to be cleaned beginning Friday.

No other homes were affected by the fire and an investigation is underway, Morgenthaler said.

Homes within the development, transformed from an area that was previously a salvage yard, are built by low-income families working 500 hours on a new home in exchange for a home payment plan that includes no down payment and no interest, Morgenthaler said.

Volunteers and community members also assist in the building process, she said.

The completed homes are then handed over to the families in dedication ceremonies in which families assume ownership of them.

Saturday's dedication ceremony will take place rain or shine at 11 a.m. at 10900 Edes Ave. in East Oakland, Morgenthaler said.

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