Category Archives: Fire

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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Man sentenced to 15 years in Berkeley double stabbing, arson that killed puppy

Berkeley police and fire responded to a stabbing followed by a fire on Harmon Street on Jan. 29, 2013. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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A 52-year-old Berkeley man arrested in 2013 after police said he stabbed two people and set a South Berkeley house on fire, killing a puppy, was sentenced Friday to 15 years in prison.

Victor Lamb entered a no contest plea in October in connection with attempted murder, great bodily injury and using a dangerous weapon during the commission of a felony after the Jan. 29, 2013, stabbing of two people, and subsequent arson, which killed a Chihuahua puppy named Midnight. Two police officers had to drag Lamb onto a ladder out of the second story of a burning home in the 1400 block of Harmon Street after he barricaded himself inside, told officers he had doused himself in lighter fluid, and said he wanted to die, according to court papers.

Initially, the Alameda County district attorney’s office charged Lamb with a much longer list of violations — including two counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, arson of an inhabited dwelling, animal cruelty, robbery and elder abuse, because one of his victims was more than 70 years old. The prosecution dropped many of those charges after Lamb’s no contest plea, negating the need for trial.

According to a transcript from Lamb’s preliminary hearing, in late September 2013, two witnesses testified about being stabbed by Lamb, who had a long history of mental health issues and sometimes took medication as a result. They said he had no recent history of serious violence, but would often become moody, verbally abusive and threatening, and display bizarre behavior. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley first responders rescue woman from marina

A woman was rescued from the water near the Berkeley Pier on Sunday, Jan. 11, 2014. Photo: Dogen Frost
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Berkeley emergency responders rescued a woman from the water at the Berkeley Marina early in the morning on Sunday, Jan. 11.

At 5:32 a.m., Berkeley’s emergency communication center received a report of someone in the water at the Berkeley Pier yelling for help, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. Both Berkeley police and firefighters responded. … Continue reading »

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Exclusive: Man died after Berkeley protests delayed help

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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A man who collapsed while waiting for Berkeley paramedics to arrive later died at the hospital, city employees have told Berkeleyside, after large protests that wracked the city earlier this month delayed first responders.

Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong has declined to comment on the incident, saying he is prohibited from doing so because of medical privacy laws.

“Anytime there is a delay it causes us concern,” he said, speaking generally. “Our objective is to get there rapidly so we can start treating the patient.”

Several city staffers — who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak with the media — confirmed that paramedics were delayed in their response to help the man who collapsed, and said he later died at the hospital.

See complete Berkeleyside coverage of the recent Berkeley protests.

There were near-daily protests in Berkeley from Saturday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 14, in connection with police-involved killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and Staten Island, New York. The most disruptive incidents took place Dec. 6 and Dec. 7.

The first night, police used tear gas and projectiles to disperse a Telegraph Avenue crowd that earlier in the night had attacked officers by hurling bottles, an ice pick and a sandbag, among other items, authorities said. The following night, officers kept their distance from the crowd which, though largely peaceful, included more than a dozen people who smashed the windows of Berkeley businesses and set debris fires as they marched through the city.

The second night, there was also a small group of people who police believe may have been responsible for attacking a man with a hammer downtown during the looting of Radio Shack, an armed robbery on Fulton and Ward streets, and shooting through the door of a Berkeley homeowner, in the 1800 block of Carleton Street, who confronted them about items they had stolen earlier in the night at Radio Shack. Those suspects — described as four young black men who at times wore white medical masks and rode BMX bicycles — remain at large. … Continue reading »

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Fire

Big rig fire on I-80 west in Berkeley snarls traffic

Fire on westbound Interstate-80. Photo: Deborah Durant
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Update, 2:10 p.m. Authorities say multiple lanes of westbound Interstate 80 will remain closed for at least one more hour after a big rig trailer caught fire shortly before 1 p.m.

According to a statement issued by CHP spokesman Officer Sean Wilkenfeld, the CHP began to receive numerous 911 calls at 12:45 p.m. that a big rig was on fire on I-80 westbound near Gilman Street in Berkeley.

Wilkenfeld said, initially, the driver of the big rig was unaware of the fire, “until other motorists began honking and getting the driver’s attention.” … Continue reading »

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15 displaced after early-morning fire in North Berkeley

12 people were displaced when a fire broke out Monday morning at 1802 Bonita Ave. Photo: David Yee
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A fire broke out at 1802 Bonita Ave. near Delaware Street around 5:06 a.m. Monday morning, displacing 15 people living in various rooms.

No-one was injured in the blaze, which sent huge flames shooting above the white, three-story Victorian-style house.

“When crews arrived they found fire and smoke coming from the third story,” said Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong. “It looked like a dormer attic space.” … Continue reading »

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Woman jumps out 3rd story window to escape fire

A woman was injured Sept. 13 when she jumped from a third story window to escape a fire that had broken out at 3144 King St.
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A woman who jumped out of an apartment building to escape a fire Saturday morning suffered serious injuries and was transported to a local trauma center, according to officials.

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at 3144 King Street, between Woolsey and Fairview streets at 9:01 a.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. The fire erupted in a hallway outside a bedroom on the third floor and created a lot of black smoke, he said.

Two women were inside the bedroom when the fire started, said Webb. One apparently tried to escape by jumping from the window to a tree, but the branch sje landed on broke and she fell three stories to the ground, said Webb. The other woman was rescued by firefighters. … Continue reading »

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1 year after devastating fire, 3 events planned for Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp

A photograph taken at the site of the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp on Aug. 28, three days after the Rim Fire swept through it. Photo: U.S. Forest Service
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The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp group is holding three fundraising events, starting on Friday August 22, to mark the first anniversary of the Rim Fire which effectively destroyed the much-loved, city-run family summer camp.

On Aug. 25, 2013, the largest recorded wildfire in the Sierra Nevada burned 92 of the Tuolumne camp’s 111 structures, including all of its main buildings.

The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Camp, the non-profit organization that supports and serves the campers of Berkeley’s Camp Tuolumne, says the goal of the events is “to bring together the families of Camp Tuolumne and to keep their camp spirit alive and well as we work together to rebuild Camp Tuolumne.” … Continue reading »

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Tuolumne Camp vs Echo Lake camp: veterans compare

Photo: Mary Flaherty
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After the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp was destroyed in the August 2013 Rim Fire, the city created a “new” family camp at its Echo Lake camp. Families who had spent summers up near Yosemite have had to adjust to the new camp high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. How do the camps compare?

Berkeleyside contributor Mary Flaherty returned recently, and, for the most part, liked the new location.

“I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go to Berkeley’s Echo Lake Camp when I signed up,” said Flaherty. “My family had attended Tuolumne Camp for seven years and loved it more every year. We were heartbroken when it burned. Our experience at Echo Lake Camp was very different from Tuolumne – and yet the same in so many ways. “Out of body experience” my daughter called it, as we arrived in camp. I did miss the Tuolumne River a lot – but the incredible view helped make up for that. … Continue reading »

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Fire

Berkeley firefighter rescues woman from the bay

Water rescue at the Berkeley pier. Photo: Dina Becerra
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A Berkeley firefighter rescue swimmer saved a woman late Thursday afternoon after she reportedly jumped off the Berkeley Pier into the San Francisco Bay, authorities said.

The woman and a man who jumped into the bay to try to rescue her before authorities arrived were taken to the hospital for medical care.

Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said a call came in to dispatchers at 4:45 p.m. reporting people in the water at the end of the Berkeley Pier.

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Fire

Breaking: Authorities respond to fire in West Berkeley

Photo: Christine McGuinness
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UPDATE, 9:30 p.m.: When Berkeley firefighters arrived on the scene of Tuesday’s fire in the 600 block of Virginia Street, they found a storage container, which had been illegally converted into a living unit, on fire, according to Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong. The fire, which was quickly extinguished, was caused by improperly discarded smoking materials that started some vegetation on fire and spread to the container, Gong said. There were no injuries and one person was displaced. Damage was limited to the container. … Continue reading »

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Building begins on site of Sequoia Apts fire on Telegraph

Walls come down
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Construction work has begun on a new, 43,000-square-foot, mixed-use building at 2441 Haste St. and Telegraph Avenue, the site of the former Sequoia Apartments that burned down in a catastrophic fire in November 2011.

The new structure will include 42 apartments on four stories, and see the return of two popular Berkeley restaurants: Raleigh’s Bar & Grill and Café Intermezzo, which will re-open at street level on Telegraph.

The new building will go some way toward addressing the blight on this particular Berkeley intersection, two of whose corners are vacant lots, with the long-vacant Cody’s bookstore space on the third.

On Wednesday last week, the property’s owner, Kenneth Ent, held an impromptu groundbreaking ceremony with family members and a construction crew to celebrate the beginning of the build. … Continue reading »

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