Category Archives: Fire
Five days after a three-alarm fire tore through the roof of a building owned by the First Congregational Church of Berkeley on 2345 Channing Way, causing an estimated $2 million in damage, the church’s senior minister, Molly Baskette, sat in The Musical Offering Café on Bancroft Way waiting to talk to members of her congregation. Baskette, who only became senior minister at First Church, as it is known, five months ago, has been holding meetings with intimate groups of five to eight people since her arrival, to “really learn their stories on a level of depth and intimacy.”
Wednesday, Baskette was poised, during her regular open office hours, to provide support and answer any questions about Friday’s devastating fire.
“I’m charged with reading the emotional affect of the congregation,” she said. Given that the congregation is very diverse and spans multiple generations, Baskette suggested there was an arc of grief and emotional needs.
There has been an outpouring of support from church members and the greater East Bay community since the fire. Many have asked what they can do to help the institution that has contributed so much to the local community. The church’s website and Facebook page have posted regular updates about the fire and its aftermath — including how it has affected events scheduled on the church campus — and, already, a crowdfunding campaign set up to raise money for the church has raised over $6,000 as this story went to press. … Continue reading »
Update, 5 p.m. Authorities say 94 children and 14 staffers were evacuated during Friday’s three-alarm fire at the First Congregational Church on Channing Way in Berkeley.
The fire was declared under control at 3:20 p.m. but had not been extinguished, Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong said during a 4 p.m. briefing. Firefighters were still working to put out hotspots.
He said crews would remain on scene throughout the evening and into tomorrow.
Scroll down for photographs of the fire shared by many community members.
Dong said the cause of the fire remains unknown and the investigation could not be carried out until the conditions are safe. He said Channing Way and Durant Avenue will be blocked off tomorrow, and could affect traffic for the scheduled Cal football game.
Dong said authorities are concerned about potential collapses, particularly in the chimney. … Continue reading »
Funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to remove trees in the Berkeley/Oakland hills for fire management have been pulled after a successful suit by a community group to stop the plan.
FEMA withdrew $3.5 million in funding to UC Berkeley and the City of Oakland as part of a settlement agreement between the agency and the Hills Conservation Network (HCN). FEMA funds for fire mitigation by East Bay Regional Park District are not affected by the settlement.
“The folks who were intending to deforest large swaths of the Oakland/Berkeley hills are not going to be able to get FEMA money to do that,” said Dan Grassetti, president of HCN. “What we would like to see is for species-neutral vegetation management to happen throughout the area. The agencies should focus on eliminating the actual threat we face.”
Fire mitigation plans in the hills have been intensely debated since the devastating 1991 fire that killed 25 people and destroyed 2,843 single-family homes and 437 apartment and condominium units.
In the long-running dispute over the FEMA grant, HCN had argued that plans to remove thousands of eucalypti, Monterey pines and acacia trees would not reduce fire risk. The better approach, according to HCN, was to focus on vegetation-free zones near roadways and structures and brush clearing. That is the approach of the EBRP, he said. … Continue reading »
A tractor-trailer caught fire this morning on eastbound I-80, sending plumes of black smoke high into the air. According to the Berkeley Fire Department, there were no reports of injuries.
The fire was reported at 11:01 a.m. Berkeley Fire Department responded to the fire and called in Alameda County Fire Department as well.
Video on television news showed dramatic flames issuing from the tractor-trailer before the fire was knocked down by fire fighters.
If you’re missing our stories, you … Continue reading »
Update: 8:30 p.m. A Berkeley firefighter received minor injuries in the two-alarm fire that broke out at 3:43 p.m. in a rear courtyard stacked with wooden pallets directly behind UC Theatre’s small space at 2115 University Ave., according to Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken.
The fire, which sent black smoke billowing above downtown Berkeley, mostly damaged some old attached shed structures, she said. A small part of the building’s interior was also damaged. The building has the address 2113 and 2111 University Ave.
Update: 5:35 p.m. Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said the fire department has extinguished most of the blaze, but there are hidden pockets of fire in the walls and ceilings which firefighters are chasing. The five-story apartment building next door, at 2119 University Ave., has been evacuated. The offices for UC Theatre and the vacant Krishna Copy store have been affected by the blaze. University Avenue is closed from Shattuck to Oxford, she said. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a call of a structure fire in an unoccupied apartment building at 2631 Durant Ave. around 5 a.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken.
No injuries were reported, she said, and the fire was extinguished in just a few minutes. The fire began on the outside of a building and then made its way inside. The fire department is investigating the cause, particularly whether it was linked to an encampment of people experiencing … Continue reading »
A car that caught fire Friday morning in the Berkeley Hills caused enough smoke to be visible from around the city and to cause concern.
The Berkeley Fire Department received a 911 call about the fire at 10:20 a.m., according to Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken. The car was in the area of the Lawrence Hall of Science and BFD dispatched ALCO Engine 19 from the Berkeley Lab, in line with its automatic mutual aid agreement with that fire crew.
The ALCO crew tackled the fire but, around two hours later, it had to return to the car as there was more smoke, according to McCracken. … Continue reading »
The 9-year-old, who was hit by a taxi in March while on a Claremont Avenue crosswalk with her mother after a PTA meeting at school, rode in a shiny red fire truck, courtesy of Engine Company 3 of the Berkeley Fire Department.
The unusual trip was arranged by the Berkeley Firefighters Random Acts of Kindness program, which also provided a pool membership at the YMCA this summer for Lillia and her mother, Khadija Bartlow.
See a photo slideshow of this morning’s BFD escort below.
Lillia said she was excited about the ride Tuesday morning as she waited for the fire engine to arrive. Before the engine pulled up in front of her family’s Ashby Avenue apartment, Lillie was dancing around, a huge smile on her face.
That was a huge difference from her homecoming from the hospital in March. The taxi that hit Lillia on March 8 broke both her legs. Rods were placed in her femurs and she had to use a wheelchair to get around, said her father, Darryl Bartlow. Her family at first feared Lillia would have to use a wheelchair for a year, but the girl, who loves gymnastics, was able to walk by June.
… Continue reading »
Community members all over Berkeley came together Tuesday to celebrate the annual National Night Out event. They danced, held potlucks, and had a chance to connect with police and firefighters as well as city staff and local officials across about 80 different block parties. The event is designed to help neighbors connect with each other in the interest of safety and build stronger ties with a range of city services, too. The photo gallery below captures some of the highlights from this year’s event.
Have more photos? Share them in the comments. Scroll down for a map of all the block parties registered this year, and learn how to sign up next year. … Continue reading »
A burglar alarm at a dry cleaner in Berkeley brought authorities to investigate what turned out to be a fire inside the University Avenue shop earlier this week.
The fire, at Martinizing Dry Cleaning, 1319 University, caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, according to the Berkeley Fire Department.
Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said police were dispatched at 12:24 a.m. Tuesday for a motion sensor that had been triggered on the burglar alarm.
When police arrived, they found a fire burning inside the business, which is about three blocks east of San Pablo Avenue. The call was upgraded to a fire incident at 12:27 a.m. BFD was dispatched at 12:29 a.m. … Continue reading »
Traffic through Berkeley is snarled on the highway after a tractor trailer caught fire and spilled fuel on Interstate 880 near I-580, authorities report.
Circulation in that area — northbound I-880 to eastbound I-80 — is limited, and authorities have advised motorists to use alternate routes, according to 511 Bay Area.
“On Friday, July 8th, at 1:08pm, a Severe Traffic Alert is in effect on the northbound I-880 ramp to eastbound I-80 due to a tractor trailer fire and fuel spill. The on-ramp is closed. Motorists are advised to expect delays and avoid the area. There is no estimated time to reopen the roadway,” according to 511. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Fire Department and several other agencies are responding to a vegetation fire in the hills above Claremont Avenue and Fish Ranch Road, authorities have reported.
Deputy Berkeley Fire Chief Donna McCracken said firefighters were dispatched at 4:43 p.m. to help fight the blaze.
Scroll to the bottom of this story for an update.
Initially the call came into the Berkeley Communications Center, which transferred the call to Oakland.
It turned out that the fire is in the Moraga-Orinda jurisdiction, and is “running uphill” north of the Claremont Avenue and Fish Ranch Road intersection, McCracken said. … Continue reading »
The Berkeley Fire Department has responded to a fire on Center Street in downtown Berkeley that caused the evacuation of several buildings and is backing up traffic in the area.
The fire, reported at about 3:30 p.m., took place at 2124 Center St. between Shattuck Avenue and Oxford Street.
Donna McCracken, deputy fire chief, said the fire broke out in a wall at ground level in the commercial building.
Firefighters had been able to knock down the fire by putting water on it, but were having difficulty accessing its source due to the tight quarters.
Traffic was jammed up on Center between Shattuck and Oxford, McCracken said.
Firefighters remained on scene as of about 4:15 p.m. to make sure the fire had been extinguished. … Continue reading »