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A personal thank you to the Berkeley Fire Department

The remnants of Kay Trimberger's office after the fire. Photo: Kay Trimberger
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By E. Kay Trimberger

E. Kay Trimberger was eating breakfast at home on Dec. 12 when she heard a smoke alarm go off. She soon realized that a fire had broken out in her study, the place that held her computer with all her writing for her current book project. Trimberger called 911 and the Berkeley Fire Department responded within minutes. In this essay, Trimberger describes their particularly Berkeley response to the fire, and thanks them for saving her house.

We looked like a picture from a child’s book — a line of people in various stages of undress, starring up at the smoke rolling out of the top floor of my house as firemen swarmed in. I was in my exercise clothes and slippers, fortunate to have grabbed a jacket and gloves, while my neighbor, Alice, donned her long apricot down robe. Stephen, my tenant from the cottage behind my house, was barefoot.

Three fire trucks with at least ten men and one woman showed up quickly, soon joined by a fourth truck.  The fire report says I called the fire in at 9:19 a.m., that the firefighters left the station at 9:22 and arrived at my house at 9:26.  All I know is that everything happened very fast. … Continue reading »

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Fire at Giovanni’s restaurant causes $100K damage

Firefighters use a ladder to access the roof of Giovanni's restaurant at 2420 Shattuck Ave. today after a fire broke out around 6 a.m. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A fire that broke out early this morning at Giovanni’s restaurant in downtown Berkeley caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage, according to Berkeley Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Avery Webb.

The fire department had to open up walls, as well as the roof of the building at 2420 Shattuck Ave., as the fire was concentrated in concealed spaces, Webb said.

The southbound section of Shattuck Avenue between Channing and Haste was closed for about one and a half hours while the first-alarm fire was being tackled. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, March 5-11

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please don’t hesitate to share photos, videos or tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. We very much want to know about issues of neighborhood concern.

From March 5-11, there were reports of four robberies23 burglaries12 assaults or batteries, one weapon-involved call and no sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also seven stolen vehicles13 disturbances and 30 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included one sex crime and one weapons call. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

Thursday, March 5

There were four home burglaries: at 5 a.m. in the 2700 block of Ellsworth Street; at 10 a.m. in the 1800 block of Stuart Street; at 1 p.m. in the 2100 block of Stuart; and at 1:30 p.m. in the 2700 block of Mathews Street.

Police made at least three arrests at undisclosed locations around Berkeley beginning around 5:20 a.m. Those operations were reportedly part of a broader sweep by the Oakland Police Department to crack down on gang activities tied to East Oakland. Read more on Berkeleyside.

There was a disturbance at 8:59 a.m. at Jones and Second streets.

The BART Police reported the arrest of a man detained on suspicion of fare evasion at 11 a.m. at the downtown Berkeley BART station after he was found with a $20,000 warrant for threatening an officer. He was booked into Berkeley City Jail for the warrant.

There was a robbery at 8:30 p.m. at Adeline Street and Ashby Avenue.

A vehicle was stolen at 8:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of Hearst Avenue. … Continue reading »

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Monte Cristo, closed briefly by fire, to re-open today

Taqueria Monte Cristo was closed briefly Wednesday by a fire on the roof. Photo: Chris Draper
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A popular Mexican restaurant on University Avenue was closed briefly by a small fire Wednesday afternoon, but the business is set to re-open today around lunchtime.

The Berkeley Fire Department initially was dispatched for a report of a kitchen fire at Taqueria Monte Cristo just after 4:30 p.m., said Avery Webb, Berkeley’s deputy fire chief.

Four engines, a ladder truck, an ambulance and a battalion chief were dispatched to the scene, at 1446 University (between Sacramento and Acton streets).

Webb said responding firefighters found no fire in the kitchen, but found smoke coming from the roof, where contractors had been using a torch to apply building materials.

Upon investigation, firefighters learned that filters in the ventilation system had caught on fire while the roofers worked. They then used dry chemical extinguishers to put out the flames, and set the filters aside.

“But it started smoldering again,” said Webb. “The ventilation system drew smoke and dry chemicals into the restaurant.” … Continue reading »

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Council: No drones for Berkeley police for 1 year

A drone spotted in Berkeley last October. Photo: William Newton
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The Berkeley City Council voted last week to enact a one-year moratorium on the use or acquisition of drones by the Berkeley Police Department.

The Feb. 24 vote came despite the fact that the department had no plans to get or use a drone.

“We don’t own a drone. We have no budget for drones. We have no plan to buy a drone,” said Police Chief Michael Meehan on Friday. “It’s not on our radar.”

Read more about drones in Berkeley.

Council voted Tuesday to allow the Berkeley Fire Department to use drones in disaster response efforts. But officials, for the most part, said they are not comfortable with police using drones for law enforcement purposes until the city hashes out a policy on the subject. As part of last week’s vote, they pledged to work on that policy at some point in the future.

The vote Tuesday does not affect privately-owned drones in Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Feb. 5-11

Selected calls to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. Scroll down for detailed maps. Click the map above for the list. See the map key here.
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This overview of recent crime in Berkeley is based on reports to the Berkeley Police unless otherwise noted. Please don’t hesitate to share photos, videos or tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; let us know if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will alert us — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch. 

From Feb. 5-11, there were reports of three robberies23 burglaries18 assaults or batteries, no weapon-involved calls and no sexual assaults, according to CrimeMapping.com. There were also 18 stolen vehicles23 disturbances and 25 auto break-ins or thefts from vehicles reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department (UCPD) included two assaults and a stolen vehicle. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links for the latest numbers. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

Thursday, Feb. 5

There were two home burglaries, at 11 a.m. in the 1000 block of University Avenue, and at 9 p.m. in the 1300 block of Bonita Avenue.

There were two disturbances, at 1:20 p.m. at Telegraph Avenue and Oregon Street, and at 5:23 p.m. in the 2700 block of Hillegass Avenue.

Police arrested 31-year-old Quincy Mason on a warrant for vehicle theft and other violations. He remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail and was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Feb. 19. He is ineligible for bail because he was already under law enforcement supervision. Police also arrested Vanessa Rascon, 35, in connection with the same case. She remains in custody with a bail of $200,000 and was set for a pre-trial hearing Thursday, Feb. 19. She has been charged with vehicle theft, receiving stolen property, forgery and identity theft, according to the Alameda County sheriff’s department. … Continue reading »

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Police

Exclusive: 23-minute delay for paramedics during Berkeley protests, patient later died

A resident of this building died after a paramedics were delayed from responding to his medical crisis on the second night of Berkeley's recent protests. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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They were just two minutes away, but it took paramedics 27 minutes during the Berkeley protests in December to reach a patient who later died, according to documents obtained by Berkeleyside under a Public Records Act request.

For 23 of those minutes, paramedics were waiting for a police escort, as per a standing city protocol, to ensure they could avoid the protests Dec. 7 and reach the man safely after he collapsed and struggled to breathe in a large affordable housing complex downtown. The Berkeley Fire Department’s average response time is 5.5 minutes.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the protests

The response time was so delayed that a Berkeley paramedic was required by law to file an “Unusual Occurrence” form with Alameda County. Paramedic supervisor Rachel Valenzuela filed the form Dec. 9, less than two days after the Dec. 7 call on Kittredge. The form indicated that patient care had been affected during the call, and replied in the affirmative to the question of “Could this event cause a community reaction or represent a threat to public safety?” Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said Tuesday he could not clarify what “this event” referred to, but said the addendum to the form provided additional detail.

Nearly all medical information was redacted from the documents, but they did reveal that three paramedics provided advanced life support to the man during his 8-minute journey to the hospital, where he arrived about 52 minutes after dispatchers first received a 911 call about his condition.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Thursday as Alvin Henry Jones Jr., a 63-year-old Berkeley resident who died of natural causes. According to the coroner’s office, Jones died Dec. 9 at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley. Jones reportedly is survived by a sister who lives in New York, but Berkeleyside was unable to locate her prior to publication. … Continue reading »

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Fire

2-alarm fire in Berkeley causes $350,000 in damage

There was a 2-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Katherine Baylor
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A North Berkeley house fire early Monday caused approximately $350,000 in damage and left the home uninhabitable, officials said.

The Berkeley Fire Department received a call at 5:38 a.m. about the fire, in a two-story home in the 1300 block of Delaware Street, between Franklin and Chestnut streets, said Avery Webb, deputy fire chief.

Webb said a caller told dispatch that lots of smoke was coming out from under the eaves of the home, which was not occupied because it was undergoing a remodel.  … Continue reading »

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Update: Cyclist hurt, 5 elevator rescues in Berkeley power outage caused by PG&E equipment failure

Traffic stopped in all directions before proceeding at the intersection of University Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Way because of a power outage in the area affecting thousands of customers in Berkeley. Photo: David Yee
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Update, 3:30 p.m. PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said Friday afternoon that the company has identified the cause of Tuesday’s power outage as an equipment failure during testing at an East Bay substation.

Sarkissian said she learned Friday that the outage actually originated at a substation in El Cerrito, not in Berkeley as had previously been reported by PG&E. She was not able to provide the exact location of the station.

Sarkissian said the testing had been planned, but that additional details about the nature of the equipment failure are still under investigation. She stressed that PG&E is focused on ensuring that its system is safe and reliable, and said she will release additional information when it is available.

Original story, 1:30 p.m. Tuesday’s widespread power outage in Berkeley and nearby cities kept first responders busy with one accident that sent a cyclist to the hospital, five elevator rescues and a handful of other calls, authorities said. … Continue reading »

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Fire guts abandoned clubhouse in John Hinkel Park

The historic redwood clubhouse in John Hinkel Park, gutted by fire. Photo: Lance Knobel
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A fire gutted the John Hinkel Park clubhouse early on Friday, Jan. 16. The Berkeley Fire Department received reports of sparks seen in the clubhouse at 6:45 a.m. on Friday, and four engines, a truck, an ambulance and a batallion chief were dispatched to the scene.

When engine 4 arrived at the park, just off the Arlington in north Berkeley, they saw the west end of the clubhouse in flames, according to Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. Because of pre-planning at the site, the department knew the building was not in use and the location of the nearest water supply. The fire was under control in about 30 minutes, Webb said.  … Continue reading »

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Police

Berkeley Police Q&A: Tear gas use, protest costs, more

Photo, taken on Dec. 6, 2014, by Pete Rosos
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On Dec. 6, the first night in a wave of demonstrations in Berkeley related to the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Berkeley Police officers used tear gas to disperse crowds on Telegraph Avenue. Many individuals involved with that first night’s protest said the use of force, which also involved baton strikes and less-lethal projectiles, was unwarranted. Police said officers only took those steps after making dozens or even hundreds of dispersal orders, and being attacked themselves with a range of projectiles thrown by members of the crowd earlier in the night.

Read complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent anti-police demonstrations

The Berkeley Police Department said costs to the city have not yet been tallied for its response to the protests — in which crowds ranged from 100 to 1,500 or more people during the first few nights. But the department anticipates costs in excess of several hundred thousand dollars, said Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan. The department does not yet have an estimate for damages to businesses.

Berkeleyside posed a list of questions to Meehan on Dec. 7, and received responses Dec. 18. The questions, some of which have been edited for clarity, follow, along with Meehan’s answers and several videos posted online by members of the crowd. … Continue reading »

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Injured pedestrian taken to hospital after Berkeley crash

Image: Google maps
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A man with moderate injuries was taken by ambulance to Highland Hospital on Sunday evening after being struck by a driver in South Berkeley.

Police and paramedics were called to the scene at about 6 p.m. for a reported traffic collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, said Officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman.

White said the man had been listening to music through headphones while running westbound across Sacramento Street at Woolsey Street when the accident took place. … Continue reading »

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Crime

Berkeleyside blotter: Crime in Berkeley, Nov. 6-12

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of robberies, burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is an overview of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. The following items represent a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate.

From Nov. 6-12, there were reports of 15 burglaries13 auto break-ins or thefts from vehiclessix stolen vehicles and nine disturbances, according to CrimeMapping.com. Ten robberies14 assaults or batteries, three weapon-related calls and two sexual assaults were reported. Significant incidents from the University of California Police Department included two robberies, two sex crimes and a burglary. These numbers are subject to change. Click the links above for the latest numbers.

Please do not hesitate to share photos, videos and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or on Facebook or Twitter; please let us know up front if you prefer to be anonymous. Don’t assume someone else will let us know — we value your eyes and ears, and you may be the only one to get in touch.

Thursday, Nov. 6

Authorities searched a South Berkeley home in the early morning hours in connection with a fatal shooting at the Seabreeze market in October. Read more on Berkeleyside.

There was a robbery at 2:25 p.m. at Virginia Street and Stannage Avenue. … Continue reading »

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