Category Archives: Fire

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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Fire

Berkeley parking enforcement vehicle catches fire

A parking enforcement vehicle caught fire in North Berkeley on Friday morning (cropped). Photo: Shan Carter
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As much as everyone uniformly dreads the meter maid, vandals were not responsible for a fire Friday morning in North Berkeley that reportedly destroyed a parking enforcement vehicle.

Flames from the conflagration were large enough to set a tree on fire, which would have threatened a nearby apartment building at Walnut and Cedar streets, authorities said.

Deputy Berkeley Fire Chief Avery Webb said a parking enforcement officer had been driving the vehicle up in the Berkeley Hills and was not far from Shattuck Avenue, at about 9:10 a.m., when she smelled smoke.

“The operator was driving the vehicle, smelled smoke and stopped,” he said. “When they opened the compartment in the back, it was on fire.” … Continue reading »

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East Bay at high risk of wildfires: Preventive measures key

Angel Island wildfire. Photo: Chris Wage
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Allen Benitez, Chief of Protective Services at Berkeley Lab admits he’s nervous.

“With the drought this summer, there is an extraordinarily high risk of fire in the hills,” he said.

The Lab’s location in the Berkeley foothills, surrounded by trees and vegetation, makes the task of keeping that risk as low as possible daunting. The fact that there are 5,000 to 7,000 people on the campus at any one time, and that an evacuation would entail moving all of them off a fenced property through just one gate, puts the lab – as Benitez terms it — in “a tough spot.”

Benitez will be one of several fire experts speaking at a Fire Forum for the community on Monday June 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Berkeley’s Northbrae Church. He will be joined by, among others, Berkeley Fire Department Chief Gil Dong; Robert Chew, Cal Fire’s assistant chief of East Bay operations; Sal Genito, associate director of Grounds and Environmental Services at UC Berkeley; and Brad Gallup from the East Bay Regional Parks District. … Continue reading »

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Police: West Berkeley fire caused by hashish operation

One man was taken to the hospital for treatment after a fire in West Berkeley on Tuesday night. Photo: Jef Poskanzer
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A small fire at a West Berkeley business on Tuesday evening, which sent one man to a burn center for treatment, appears to have been caused by a hashish production operation, police said Wednesday.

Very little information was available from authorities, but Officer Jennifer Coats, Berkeley Police spokeswoman, said via email that officers responding to the fire Tuesday discovered an illegal marijuana grow and hashish production operation on-site. … Continue reading »

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4 years at least until Berkeley Tuolumne Camp is rebuilt

3/21/2014 view of California poppies along the south facing slopes above the Tuolumne Wild and Scenic River. Photo by Dusty Vaughn, USFS. #RimFire — in Groveland, CA.
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“The dogwoods are in bloom.”

After last August’s Rim Fire wiped out Berkeley’s Tuolumne Camp in the Sierra, that announcement at a recent gathering for campers drew a round of applause. As did the declaration by Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates that, “We’re going to do everything we can do, humanly possible… and beyond humanly possible, to rebuild that camp.”

But, despite the hopeful signs of spring in the fire zone, and the commitment of local officials, it will be 2018 at least before Berkeley’s much-loved family summer camp can be rebuilt. … Continue reading »

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Fire

Breaking: Man injured in Berkeley fire on Gilman Street

One man was taken to the hospital for treatment after a fire in West Berkeley on Tuesday night. Photo: Jef Poskanzer
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A small rooftop fire in West Berkeley on Tuesday night sent one man to a San Francisco burn center for treatment, authorities said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said a caller reported flames showing from the roof of 841 Gilman St. at 6:45 p.m.

A single-alarm assignment, including four engines, a truck and an ambulance, was dispatched. Firefighters arriving to the Royal Robbins Clothing store said there were no more active flames on the roof when they got to the scene, though they did see smoke and some embers. … Continue reading »

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Police rescue 2 men from I-80 overpass fire in Berkeley

Two people were rescued by Berkeley police from the fire that erupted
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Berkeley Police officers rescued two people from the fire that erupted under the University Avenue Interstate 80 overpass Wednesday. The quick actions of three officers who were first on the scene may have saved the lives of two men trapped in the burning storage enclosure, according to the Berkeley Police Association.

At around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver “noticed the fire” and called for emergency back-up, the association reported. His calls for help were immediately answered by two Berkeley Police Special Victims Unit detectives who were conducting an interview nearby.

They went to the scene of the fire that was raging in a Caltrans storage area containing around 100 Ecology Center recycling cans leased by the city of Berkeley, according to authorities.

“I could hear a man screaming and he was locked inside a chain link fence where the fire was roaring out of control,” said Detective Melissa Kelly, one of the officers who hurried to the scene, assisted by Detective Ana Baber. “We couldn’t get the gate open and had to reach under the fence to rescue the man and get him away from the burning fire.” … Continue reading »

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Possible explosion causes fire under I-80 University Avenue overpass in West Berkeley

This photo, taken from the Berkeley hills, shows the extent of the smoke caused by the fire. Photo: danieleran
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UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: Police activity near the University Avenue and Second Street fire has ended and all roadways are open, according to a Berkeley Police Department Nixle alert.

UPDATE, 4:45 p.m.: Police and fire investigators continue to search through the site of the fire to determine its cause and whether it is suspicious. There is no evidence so far that the fire was caused by drug activities or a meth lab, as has been reported elsewhere, said Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats. The fire happened in a fenced-off storage area under the University Avenue overpass, and a couple of people were evacuated from the area by police before the fire was extinguished, she said. Coats confirmed there was a homeless encampment at the site, and that it is believed the fire started with an explosion. Evidence of drugs had not been found at the time of writing.

ORIGINAL STORY: A fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon at around 2:45 p.m., adjacent to the University Avenue Interstate-80 overpass in West Berkeley, is being investigated as possibly having been triggered by an explosion, authorities said.

The fire, which burned several recycling bins, was under control by 3:15 p.m., according to Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong, who said it took crews 18 minutes to do so. … Continue reading »

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Saved from Tuolumne Camp blaze: A stopped watch

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As summer approaches, scores of Berkeleyans recall the gaping hole in their lives now that the cherished Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp is gone — razed to the ground in August 2013 by the devastating Rim Fire.

One young man was reminded of the wonderful times he had spent at the city of Berkeley-run camp with a jolt this week when he went to sign up to be a counselor at the camp, which this year is being held at Echo Lake, and was told a possession of his had been retrieved from the ashes. … Continue reading »

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Are you ready to help kids, pets when disaster strikes?

The Berkeley Emergency Prep Fair is aimed to help residents know what to do with pets and little ones in case of a disaster. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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A brand new interactive fair is coming to Berkeley this weekend, aimed to help residents get prepared for disaster with a focus on children and pets.

The free event, at the North Berkeley BART station, takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26. There will be food and music, kids’ activities, prizes and games, as well as first aid and CPR training, pet evacuation workshops, a blood drive and much more.

“It’s really geared toward the empowerment of individuals in our community,” said Gradiva Couzin, a Berkeley resident and CERT volunteer who has been helping organize the event. “Our goal is to help everyone recognize their own strengths, and what they can contribute and bring to disaster response.” … Continue reading »

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