Fire damages Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on 9th St.

Neighbors watched the fire burn at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on 9th Street on Saurday Oct. 20. Photo: Jacqueline Sarratt

A two-alarm fire broke out at the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church at 1823 Ninth St. and Hearst in West Berkeley on Saturday night.

The blaze, which is believed to have started in the rear of the structure, was reported at 10:19 p.m., and was extinguished by 11:36 p.m. There were no injuries, according to a KTVU report, quoting a fire dispatcher, and the cause is not yet confirmed. The church was in the middle of remodeling, according to the same report.

The fire principally damaged the rear of the church, seen here on Sunday Oct. 21. Photo: Lisa Sibony

The landmarked Good Shepherd Episcopal Church was built in 1878. Photo: Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

The Church of the Good Shepherd, built in 1878, is the oldest continuously used church in the Bay Area, according to its website. It was designed by San Francisco architect Charles L. Bugbee in the Gothic Revival style. It is both a City of Berkeley Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The extent of the damage is not known.

This is the third significant fire in Berkeley in as many weeks. On Oct. 3, a house on Benvenue Avenue in south Berkeley was badly damaged in a blaze. And on Oct. 18, a house fire about eight block west on Deakin Street sparked another blaze at the single family home next door.

The church’s steeple is currently under scaffolding for repainting work. Photo: Lisa Sibony

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  • The flames indeed came out of the back of the church, in the office area which is just off to the left of the picture below (that little structure jutting out of the main part of the church).  Running down 9th Street from my house on Delaware, I saw the flames towering up, probably starting the trees in the back between the church and the community house on fire, and then the windows of the back of the church blew out sending large cinders throughout the neighborhood.  The wind blew a huge smoke cloud northwest toward James Kenney Park. The steeple appears to be the furthest section from the fire and is still standing.  The neighborhood still smells of smoke.

    This is the 4th big fire in 3 weeks, as there was also a blaze, reportedly caused by a seagull, on October 2 merely 2 blocks from this fire on Delaware just above San Pablo.

  • Thanks for the report, M Covarrubias. You’re right, we forgot about the Oct. 2 fire apparently caused by a seagull. We reported on it here:

  • iicisco

    So.. I’d like to know why people were inside at 10:21pm? Was there some event going on inside?

  • Pointsettanoel

    Im very sadd for this church, Please Good LORD, provide for thier needs at this time, and may they make a quick comeback .AMEN

  • Damby

    Good Shepherd Church was NOT remodeling, but repairing and repainting two exterior walls which receive the heaviest weather wear.

  • ShanePC1

    Very sorry to hear of this fire at the Good Shepherd parish. Our prayers are with the parishioners as they repair the fire damage to their church home and wonderful, historic community asset. I attend Trinity Cathedral (Epsicopal) in San Jose. Ours is a carpenter gothic structure as well, and has been in continuous use since 1863. Next year we celebrate our 150th anniversary.

  • ShanePC1

     Sorry…typing too quickly – Episcopal, not Epsicopal!

  • guest

    “I’d like to know why people were inside at 10:21pm?”

    Praying or worshiping, perhaps?  (Just a guess, though, based on this being a church.)

  • I’ve read this article a few times now since the fire. It truly breaks my heart to read and see these pictures. When I was a kid, the other church kids and I would run and play tag before service began. Up the ramp, through the service hall, into the closets where the priests vestments were stored, then into the back office, out, around the building and all over again. Sometimes Jay would tell us to stop, so we would tip toe through the service hall so no one would know we were up to no good. So many memories…

  • emraguso

    Thank you for taking the time to share this with us, Melissa — we (at Berkeleyside) appreciate it.