By Frances Dinkelspiel and Emilie Raguso
Update: Nov. 23, 8:55 a.m. About 30 people were displaced from their apartments Sunday night after a fire ripped through the Chandler apartment complex at 2449 Dwight Way.
The fire was one of two that struck Berkeley within 15 minutes, prompting the Berkeley Fire Department to call in mutual aid from Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito and the Alameda County Fire Department, according to Avery Webb, Berkeley’s interim fire chief.
Both fires went to two alarms – something that Webb said he had never remembered happening before.
“We were stretched pretty thin trying to manage both incidents at the same time,” said Webb. “To have two second-alarm fires at the same time is extremely rare. It’s pretty unusual.”
One person at the Dwight Way complex had to be carried from the building, said Webb. He was taken to the hospital but has been released.
The Dwight Way fire broke out at 5:28 p.m. The second fire at a two-story commercial building at the old Macaulay Foundry was called in 12 minutes later at 5:40 p.m., said Webb.
The Dwight Way fire appears to have started in a fourth-floor apartment. It quickly spread to the attic of the building and eventually involved one-third of the attic, said Webb. There were about 30 people living in the apartment building. They were not permitted to return to their homes and the Red Cross came to assist them, he said. About half of the tenants found places to sleep and the other half were helped by the Red Cross.
The building also houses The Bleecker Bistro, and several other businesses.
Webb didn’t have damage estimates yet. He said the owner will have to bring in contractors to do some repairs before people will be able to move in.
Most of Berkeley’s fire trucks were at the scene on Dwight, so the mutual aid departments did most of the work at the Carleton scene. Berkeley did call in all of its “chief officers” (a total of four in Berkeley as well as three others from the mutual aid departments) to help oversee the situation.
The fire at 811 Carleton St. was in a former foundry that its owners had converted to smaller spaces for craftspeople. The fire broke out in the western end of the building toward the street and eventually got into the walls and attic, said Webb.
John Allen, one of the owners, said the fire was relatively small but did affect one craftsman. The fire was contained to about 100 square feet. The entire building is about 50,000 square feet, he said.
“Everybody’s OK. Nobody was hurt,” said Allen, who thanked the firefighters.
Original story, Nov. 22, 6:38 p.m. The Berkeley Fire Department responded to two fires Sunday evening. The following represents community reports. Berkeleyside will update this post with official information once BFD is able to respond.
Reports about a two-alarm fire at Telegraph Avenue and Dwight Way, the apartment building that also houses restaurant Bleecker Bistro, began coming in at about 5:30 p.m.
At about 5:50 p.m., many residents also reported sirens in West Berkeley, at what turned out to be a fire near Carleton and Seventh streets.
Traffic has been blocked and residents reported heavy smoke in West Berkeley, in the Southside neighborhood and downtown.
See Berkeleyside’s Twitter feed for preliminary reports from the neighborhoods. Video, below, by Jason Miller.
See Berkeleyside’s Twitter feed for preliminary reports from the neighborhoods. This post was updated throughout the evening due to the developing nature of the incidents.
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