San Diego arson dog helps investigators in Bay Area

Emily is an arson detection dog. She and her handler, Capt. James Shadoan, work for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego Fire-Rescue Department dog trained to detect evidence of arson was in the Bay Area of Northern California Wednesday with her handler to help investigate a fire that destroyed an apartment building that was under-construction, authorities said.

The blaze, which erupted around 1 a.m. Tuesday at a complex being built in Concord, caused an estimated $55 million worth of damage and forced more than 250 people to evacuate from a nearby apartment building, Contra Costa County fire officials said. Two of the people who were evacuated suffered minor smoke inhalation injuries.

Later on Tuesday, the SDFD arson detection dog, Emily, and her handler, Capt. James Shadoan, were deployed to Concord as part of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ National Response Team, SDFD spokeswoman Monica Munoz said. The ATF is attempting to determine if the fire was set intentionally.

SFGate.com reported that the blaze is the latest in a series of Bay Area fires that have destroyed under-construction apartment complexes over the past two years. Three of the fires have been ruled to be arson by investigators, while the cause of a fourth was undetermined.