Breaking: Gunfire in South Berkeley, fire on University

Fire in the 1700 block of University. Photo: Kevin Hobbs
Firefighters responded to an active fire in the 1700 block of University on the south side. Photo: Kevin Hobbs

Update, 9:45 p.m. In other breaking news, BART service has stopped in Berkeley due to a person on the tracks between the MacArthur and Ashby stations. A major power outage also hit West Berkeley on Sunday night. Tune in to Berkeleyside’s Facebook page and Twitter for updates. (Accounts are not needed to view the pages.)

Update, 8:38 p.m. Police confirmed that the information that follows is accurate regarding the shooting. No victims have been identified at this time, and no arrests have been made. Said Lt. Alyson Hart, watch commander, “We are still piecing together what may have happened.”

Regarding the fire, eastbound University was closed between Grant Street and Jefferson Avenue as a result of that response. Motorists were advised to find another route.

Original post, 8:15 p.m. First responders have been busy Sunday night despite the wet weather, with gunshots reported in South Berkeley and a structure fire on University Avenue.


Reports about the gunfire are preliminary, as Berkeleyside is waiting for official news from authorities. The fire is under control and at least two people have been displaced. One person was taken to the hospital after the fire for medical care.

According to unconfirmed scanner traffic, police were called in the 2800 block of McGee Avenue, near Oregon and Russell streets, shortly after 6 p.m. for multiple reports of gunfire.

There were numerous calls about at least one male seen with a gun. Witnesses reported several people running away from the block, and police detained at least two people at about 6:10 p.m. and were looking for others who may have been connected. (They were not arrested, BPD said later.)

Gunfire reportedly struck at least two homes, and police were still on the scene more than an hour after the call.

One local resident said, as of shortly before 8 p.m., “the area is not on lockdown and police have dispersed so certainly no victims & not actively looking for anyone locally.”


Firefighters work a fire scene on University Avenue, near McGee Avenue, in Berkeley, on Sunday, March 6, 2016. Photo: David Yee
Firefighters used a ladder to help a person escape a fire on University Avenue, near McGee. Photo: David Yee

Fire on University

Shortly before 7 p.m., the Berkeley Fire Department responded to a report of an active fire inside a building in the 1700 block of University, near McGee Avenue.

Firefighters who responded saw smoke coming from the second level of the 2-story building, and worked to make entry and begin evacuating the building, which has residential units over retail.

Interim Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said two units, of the roughly 20 in the building, were involved. One of them was heavily impacted, and the other was moderately impacted. Two people, one from each of those units, was displaced.

Firefighters had to rescue one person through a window and down a ladder, and help another person out the front door. One person was taken to the hospital for medical care.

McCracken said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but it was under control before 8:05 p.m. She said some of the residents would likely be allowed to return home, but it wasn’t clear how many.


One neighbor told Berkeleyside the “whole neighborhood smells like burnt plastic, even upwind of it.”

Berkeleyside will update this post if additional details are provided. Have a question about a local public safety incident? Write to crime@berkeleyside.com. Photographs and videos are always appreciated.

Get the latest Berkeley news in your inbox with Berkeleyside’s free Daily Briefing. And make sure to bookmark Berkeleyside’s pages on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t need an account on those sites to view important information.