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