Berkeley Fire, CHP respond to large fire at Gilman homeless encampment

Homeless camp at the Gilman underpass, June 23, 2016. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The Berkeley Fire Department and California Highway Patrol responded to a fire Sunday morning at the Gilman Street homeless encampment under I-80.

According to Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, spokesman for CHP Oakland, the call came in at around 9:20 a.m. about a “large fire”  in the encampment.  It was extinguished by the fire crew. The fire caused no injuries and no arrests were made, said Wilkenfeld.

Nancy Van House witnessed the emergency responders on scene as she was headed to the freeway. “There was a fire truck and a half-dozen CHP units blocking traffic under the freeway by the homeless encampment at Gilman and I-80,” she wrote Berkeleyside.

It’s not the first time a fire has broken out in the encampment, which has become the poster child for Berkeley’s homeless camps, and is regularly cleared out by authorities, only to see people return. In May 2014, an explosion caused fires in several recycling bins at the camp. The fires produced billowing clouds of smoke, visible for miles around.


And there have been fires in other Berkeley homeless camps. In May 2015, authorities responded to a fire that broke out in the middle of numerous homeless encampments where Bay Street goes over Ashby Avenue near the freeway.