Local business

4 Berkeley businesses, including Wooden Duck, Import Tile damaged in 5-alarm warehouse fire

Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad

A major fire in West Berkeley that broke out around 8 p.m. Saturday damaged a warehouse with four businesses. Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad

This breaking news story was updated as more information became available. Watch this feed on Twitter — no account needed — for live updates. Frances Dinkelspiel, of Berkeleyside, reported from the scene. Scroll down for a video of the fire taken by freeway travelers. We posted an update Sunday, April 13, shortly before noon.

Update, April 13, 12:10 p.m.: The Wooden Duck reports via Facebook that it will be closed Sunday but “hopefully reopening tomorrow. Our San Rafael store will be open 12-5. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers as we push through this rough road. We will release more information about our reopening as soon as possible.”

Update, April 13, 12:33 a.m.: The Wooden Duck reports that it was not destroyed in Saturday night’s 5-alarm fire, as some media have reported, although Joshua Tree Furniture was destroyed, as well as a warehouse for Import Tile. No injuries were reported. The Wooden Duck posted the following message on Berkeleyside.

The fire that we experienced tonight was in our BACK WAREHOUSE not in the store and factory buildings. The store building was untouched and we’re not sure if the factory building sustained damaged from fire or water as we couldn’t go into it tonight.

Our back storage building, Joshua Tree furniture, and a storage warehouse for Import Tile were destroyed.

Despite media reports, our store, our factory, the Import Tile Store, and Bay Home Consignment were not destroyed.

The fire was huge but was on the Second St. side of our building, not the Eastshore side.

We lost a lot tonight. Hopefully we can recover from this quickly along with our neighbors.

We are grateful to all of the firefighters for saving our factory and store buildings.

Stay tuned to the store’s Facebook page for updates.

The Wooden Duck reports that its store and factory were not damaged in Saturday night's fire. Image: The Wooden Duck

The Wooden Duck reports that its store was not damaged in Saturday night’s fire. Image: The Wooden Duck

No significant power outages were listed by PG&E in West Berkeley any longer. Several hundred people were reportedly impacted during an earlier outage in the area.

Update, April 13, 12:05 a.m.Reports suggest that part of the Wooden Duck furniture store has been fully, or significantly, destroyed in the blaze. Several other businesses have also been severely impacted.

The video below, posted by YouTube user Barry Yip, was shot from a car traveling on I-80, which saw severe traffic congestion as a result of people slowing to look at the fire. It shows the fire in full blaze, starting from about the 1:40 mark.

Update, 11:19 p.m. PG&E reports three power outages in Berkeley affecting 182 customers. No additional information was available. See the outage map here.

Update, 11:10 p.m. Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong says the West Berkeley fire was a five-alarm assignment, not a six-alarm assignment as was initially reported by another fire official.

Update, 10:48 p.m. PG&E reports that 461 people in West Berkeley are without power. The estimated restoration time is midnight. (Learn more via PG&E’s outage map.) Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong told the Chronicle that close to 70 people were on scene fighting the fire, and that the “structure is expected to be ‘a major loss, if not a total loss — we’ve had a roof collapse through the center of the building.’” The Chronicle reported that PG&E had shut down power in the area because “electrical wires were affected by the blaze.”

Photo: Wesley Capps

Photo: Wesley Capps

Update, 10:40 p.m. Berkeley firefighters say Saturday night’s huge fire in West Berkeley is not yet “under control,” but has been “contained.”

Assistant Fire Chief Abe Roman described the fire, in the 1800 block of Second Street in West Berkeley, as a six-alarm blaze that required mutual aid from the Alameda County Fire Department. The fire took place on the Second Street side of the building.

A six-alarm fire burned through a West Berkeley warehouse Saturday, April 12. One of the businesses involved was furniture store Wooden Duck. Photo: David Yee

A five-alarm fire burned through a West Berkeley warehouse Saturday. Photo: David Yee

The fire was limited to one building on Second Street. Roman said firefighters would be on scene all night, and had not yet identified an official cause.

Roman said one challenge in the area had been a lack of hydrants nearby, which resulted in the use of many hoses, particularly on Second Street. It did not impair firefighting efforts, but had been one issue Saturday night.

Roman said firefighters were also using foam to try to knock down the flames.

Photo: ginger_bites

Firefighters expected to be working all night on the huge blaze. Photo: ginger_bites

A four-block area around the fire was closed off by emergency workers during the incident, and remained closed as of 10:40 p.m.

Many people driving on the highway on nearby Interstate 80 were reported to be slowing down to see what had transpired.

Power is out at stop lights nearby, and some residents in the area have also reported outages.

Fire at The Wooden Duck. Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad

Fire raging at The Wooden Duck. Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad

Update, 10:15 p.m. A fire that broke out in West Berkeley just after 8 p.m. Saturday has affected a 40,000-square-foot building that houses four businesses, including The Wooden Duck and Import Tile.

Firefighters remain on scene, at 1823 Eastshore Highway in West Berkeley, fighting the blaze. As of about 10 p.m., firefighters on a huge ladder were actively pouring water on the flames. The damaged structure is located on the Second Street side of the property.

Building owner Bill de Carion, who also owns Import Tile, estimates at least $3 million in damage to the buildings, not including property that has been destroyed. He reports that he does have insurance, however.

Bill De Clarion. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

De Clarion. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

He said his son-in-law, Joshua Goldberg, had been working late in the warehouse in Goldberg’s business, Joshua Tree, when he looked across the way and saw flames coming out of The Wooden Duck.

Goldberg immediately called his father-in-law to tell him about the fire, then called the Berkeley Fire Department. (Update, April 13: Goldberg called the Fire Department first, then called his family, Berkeleyside confirmed Sunday.)

Said de Carion, as he and his wife Evelyn stood on the sidewalk watching the building burn, “This is so crazy. I can’t imagine what it’s going to take to put these businesses back together.”

de Carion opened Import Tile in 1977. The business’ showroom, on Hearst Avenue, was not affected by the fire, but some of its property had been stored in the fire-damaged building.

Wooden Duck owner Eric Gellerman said he too has insurance.

Joshua Tree and Wooden Duck are both furniture businesses. No information was available about the fourth business on the property, Thriving Lifestyles.

As of 10 p.m., the Berkeley Fire Department had not been available to provide additional information about the incident to Berkeleyside.

Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Firefighters on scene spoke of the lack of fire hydrants. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Original story, 8:55 p.m. The Berkeley Fire Department is battling a large, multi-alarm fire on Eastshore Highway in West Berkeley.

Reports identify the building as 1823 Eastshore.

Berkeleyside will provide updates as confirmed information is available. We have a reporter on the scene.

Related:
West Berkeley fire causes $5 million in damage, destroys 20 artisan businesses (04.13.14)

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  • Guest42

    It’s the Wooden Duck furniture factory–passenger just driving past.

  • Stuart
  • Carbon

    We can see and smell the smoke up in North Berkeley. I hope no one was hurt. So sad for Wooden Duck and the surrounding businesses that are affected. :(

  • Guest

    smoke is really bad in west berkeley. stay safe everyone!

  • http://berkeleyhomes.com/ serkes

    I hope much of the UC Memorial Stadium seat boards are stored off site.

    Ira

  • guest

    Massive homeless encampment with fires under the overpass near there recently. Related?

  • Culper Agent 355

    I was also wondering about this. Really sad for the people in those businesses, whose jobs are affected!

  • Culper Agent 355

    Thanks for the up-to-date reporting! Good work.

  • Arlene

    Lack of fire hydrants… something to remember when the trains start carrying hazardous materials on those tracks.

  • Alexander Sinclair Merenkov

    “Goldberg immediately called his father-in-law to tell him about the fire, then called the Berkeley Fire Department.” Really?? I hope this is just another errror by a reporter and didn’t really happen. You should always call the fire department FIRST. duh!

  • http://berkeleyside.com Frances Dinkelspiel

    That’s what I was told. Regardless, fire department got there quickly.

  • guest

    The trains have been carrying hazardous materials since the tracks were laid

  • The Wooden Duck

    Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers tonight.

    The fire that we experienced tonight was in our BACK WAREHOUSE not in the store and factory buildings. The store building was untouched and we’re not sure if the factory building sustained damaged from fire or water as we couldn’t go into it tonight.

    Our back storage building, Joshua Tree furniture, and a storage warehouse for Import Tile were destroyed.

    Despite media reports, our store, our factory, the Import Tile Store, and Bay Home Consignment were not destroyed.

    The fire was huge but was on the Second St. side of our building, not the Eastshore side.

    We lost a lot tonight. Hopefully we can recover from this quickly along with our neighbors.

    We are grateful to all of the firefighters for saving our factory and store buildings.

  • KimAronson

    I’m so sad about the wooden duck. I feel for Eric, Amy and all the people who worked there. This amazing store is the results of many many many years of hard work. It’s hard to believe it really burned down.

  • KimAronson

    Just got this off of the wooden duck Facebook page. “Despite media reports, our store, our factory, the Import Tile Store, and Bay Home Consignment were not destroyed.” I’m very relieved to learn this.

  • http://stefanco.com Stefan Lasiewski

    Warehouses have many electrical wires, machinery as well as flammable chemicals. For example, oily rags used for finishing furniture can catch fire by simply sitting in a closed can. I would look at the mundane causes of a fire instead of pointing fingers at the undesirable people.

  • http://stefanco.com Stefan Lasiewski

    Was anyone injured? Are the fire fighters okay? We saw a transformer explode with sparks, and the electricity was enough of a threat that PG&E shut down the power. The fire was so hot that the fire fighters had to leave some of the areas for safety.

    I’m grateful to live in an area where there are so many helpers.

  • Cal Alumnus

    Was the wood from the stadium destroyed?

  • guest

    Wondering whether there is a connection between this fire, the attempted arson at Aquatic Park (I know the man is in custody), and the CalTrans fence in the Gilman overpass.

  • http://berkeleyside.com Frances Dinkelspiel

    I talked to Goldberg today. He called 911 first, then his in-laws. His mother in law thought it was the other way around last night. Of course, she was in shock as she watched her family’s building go up in flames.

  • Culper Agent 355

    No one is pointing fingers by asking questions.

  • berkeleyan

    I really hope this will be investigated for arson, as there are definitely people who stand to benefit from these light manufacturers not being in this location.

  • Chris J

    That’s a stretch.

  • Chris J

    Of course they are!