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BART service restored, but Bay Area delays continue

June 14, 2012 |  6:29 pm

Workers inspect BART tracks after fire

Transit service between San Francisco and the East Bay resumed about 3:45 p.m.Thursday after a  three-alarm fire in West Oakland left tracks melted and daily commutes snarled.

In a statement and tweets, BART officials said trains will run an extra hour of direct service Thursday night on the Fremont-Daly City Line. They said "residual delays continue." But BART spokesman Jim Allison told the Oakland Tribune, "We are up and running almost at full speed, which is a bit of a surprise to me."

While crews worked to reopen the tracks, thousands of commuters waited in lines stretching for blocks, hoping to catch a bus or ferry into San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Traffic on the Bay Bridge was also backed up for about two hours, the California Highway Patrol reported.

The commute remained virtually deadlocked all day, after a fire broke out about 2:15 a.m. in a senior housing complex that was under construction near BART's West Oakland station. Flames spread to neighboring buildings, power poles and elevated tracks.

Authorities are investigating the fire as possible arson, officials said.

The fire damaged track insulators, communications cables, electrical cables and other equipment, the transit agency said.

Crews worked to repair the damage and had hoped to have full service restored by 4 p.m. They managed to meet their goal, which was particularly important Thursday because heavier-than-usual traffic was expected as fans converged on the city for an afternoon San Francisco Giants baseball game and the opening round of the U.S. Open golf tournament.

Mike Schuveiller of Reno stood in line at an Oakland bus stop Thursday morning with two others trying to make it to the golf tournament. He told the Chronicle he's been to every U.S. Open on the West Coast since 1992.

"When you go to the Open, you stand in a lot of lines, and you have to be patient," he said. "It will work out."


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Photo: Workers check damage to BART tracks near the West Oakland station after a fire below forced service between the East Bay and San Francisco to stop. Credit: Kristopher Skinner / Bay Area News Group / Associated Press