Tag Archives: Berkeley Fire Department

Water main rupture causes Berkeley street to buckle

Police officers walk through the rushing waters of a water main break on Parker Street, near Regent Street, in Berkeley, on Monday, July 13, 2015. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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On Monday evening a water main rupture flooded Parker Street near Regent in central Berkeley and caused part of the street to buckle. Water gushed down the 2500 block of Parker for nearly an hour before East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) was able to shut off the flow.

The Berkeley Fire Department received a call at 5:49 p.m. alerting it to the water main break, according to BFD Deputy Chief Avery Webb. Webb said an engine responded and firefighters found the water main break to be in the roadway in front of an apartment building at 2511 Parker St. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley zoning board to consider demolition on Durant

2631 Durant
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The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board will consider granting a permit to demolish a 2-story, 18-unit rent-controlled apartment building on Durant Avenue at its meeting Thursday, June 25, as part of the owner’s plan to replace it with a 5-story, 56-unit building.

The board’s main decision will be to determine whether to grant the demolition permit for 2631 Durant or require the owner to rehabilitate the Southside neighborhood building, just east of the now-shuttered Berkeley Art Museum. The new project would include 40 studios and 16 2-bedroom units, common facilities, bike storage, a first-floor office and 2,240 square feet of open space on a rooftop deck. Parking would not be provided.

To replace the rent-controlled units, the owner has proposed that 20 of the new units will be offered at 65% of the consumer price index, “although rents would be allowed to increase to market rate upon vacancy. These 20 units represent habitable square footage comparable to … the existing 18 units, and would accommodate the same number tenants,” according to the staff report prepared for Thursday night’s meeting.

Opponents of the demolition have asked the board to reject the permit or at least delay the vote, saying that the property had been neglected intentionally to pave the way for the new building. … Continue reading »

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Six people killed in Berkeley balcony collapse identified

A balcony at Library Gardens in downtown Berkeley collapsed Tuesday, killing six. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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By Tracey Taylor and Emilie Raguso

Update, 4:40 p.m. According to the city of Berkeley, Philip Grant, the Consul General of Ireland to the Western United States, will have a wreath-laying ceremony at 5 p.m. near the site of the balcony collapse.

The city expects its investigation into what caused the collapse to take several days: “As part of the City’s investigation of the incident, the City will be retaining possession of the collapsed materials. Building and Safety staff have been on scene since early Tuesday morning, shortly after the collapse. Once the damaged materials are removed from the building, they will be taken to a City facility and will remain under City control.”

City staff members have taken other steps, as well, to document the scene and the damage. Inspectors have already been inside the unit, and have “completed an up-close, aerial investigation using cranes to examine the damage,” the city reported just after 4:30 p.m. At that time, the city also released property records related to the building where the accident took place.

Update, 3:30 p.m. At around 3:15 p.m., crews in downtown Berkeley used a crane to remove the fifth-floor balcony at Library Gardens, which fell in the early hours of Tuesday, killing six people.

ORIGINAL STORY: The six people who died early Tuesday morning after a balcony collapsed in downtown Berkeley have been identified as Ashley Donohoe, 22, from Rohnert Park; and Olivia Burke, Eimear Walsh, Eoghan Culligan, Niccolai Schuster and Lorcán Miller, all 21 years old and from Ireland.

See complete coverage of the balcony collapse.

At a press conference that started at around 1:15 p.m., Philip Grant, Consul General of Ireland to Western United States, said: “Our hearts are breaking but it is so good to know that so many people stand with us.”

Listen to an audio recording of the press conference below. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley orders balcony removal after tragedy kills 6

Students outside Tuesday's balcony collapse in Berkeley struggled to make sense of the tragedy that killed at least six Irish students. Photo: Emily Dugdale
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The city of Berkeley has ordered the property owner of a downtown apartment complex to remove a balcony that collapsed early Tuesday, killing six, and follow up with a structural assessment of the remaining balconies on the property within the next two days.

In a statement released at 11:30 a.m., city spokesman Matthai Chakko reported that building inspectors visited 2020 Kittredge St., between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue, early Tuesday morning to examine the scene at Library Gardens. The complex has two separate buildings with about 160 one- and two-bedroom units.

See complete coverage of the balcony collapse.

Authorities received reports beginning at 12:40 a.m. regarding a fifth-floor balcony that had collapsed in the apartment complex. (Editor’s note: Initially authorities said the balcony was on the fourth floor, because it was on the fourth residential story in the building.) There have been six confirmed fatalities of young people from Ireland reported to be living in the Bay Area for the summer. Seven others were critically injured.

The people who were injured were taken by ambulance to Highland Hospital in Oakland, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, and John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. The city has not released the names of those who were killed or injured “Due to privacy concerns.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley balcony collapse leaves 6 people dead

An injured person is placed into an ambulance at the scene of a balcony collapse at the Library Gardens Apartments, in Berkeley, early Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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A fifth-floor balcony at an apartment complex in downtown Berkeley collapsed early Tuesday morning, sending six Irish students to their deaths and injuring seven others critically.

The balcony, at Library Gardens, collapsed around 12:40 a.m. according to Officer Ethell Wilson, a spokesman for the Berkeley Police Department. Police had received a call about a loud party at that address, at 2020 Kittredge St., around midnight, he said. (Note: Initially authorities said the balcony was on the fourth floor, because it was on the fourth residential story in the building. They later reported the balcony was on the fifth story.)

As many as 13 people may have been on the balcony when it collapsed. Four were declared dead at the scene and one died later, according to Wilson. A sixth was reported dead shortly after 7:30 a.m. Seven others are in serious or critical condition at area hospitals, said Wilson.

See complete coverage of the balcony collapse.

The city of Berkeley has red tagged the three other balconies in the 9-year-old building as a safety precaution, according to Berkeley Police Officer Byron White. Berkeley has ordered the property owner to remove the damaged balcony and do a structural inspection of the other balconies within 48 hours.

As of about 10:30 a.m., the Alameda County coroner’s office said names of the deceased victims have not yet been released, but authorities plan to release additional information at 1 p.m. at a press conference at the Public Safety Building.

The balcony appears to have been constructed to hold 13 people at one time, so its collapse was probably caused by water damage, said Gene St. Onge, an Oakland civil and structural engineer who is basing his assessment on pictures he has seen of the balcony. “All water has to do is get in there and start seeping into the joint and into the wall,” said St. Onge. “In a short time it can rot the wood, which can give away.”

Continue reading »

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Three injured in early-morning fire in Southside Berkeley

A resident walks out of an apartment building at 2510 Regent St., where a two-alarm fire struck shortly before 3:00 a.m. in Berkeley, on Sunday, May 31, 2015. Three people were injured and several had to be rescued by firefighters. Photo: David Yee ©2015
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Three people were taken to the hospital, and firefighters had to rescue several tenants from an apartment building, after a fire broke out in Southside Berkeley early in the morning of Sunday, May 31.

According to Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong, a fire at 2510 Regent St. (at Dwight Way) was called in at 2:54 a.m. While firefighters were en route to the incident, reports came in that occupants were jumping from a balcony with people still inside the building, Chief Dong said. On arrival, the response was upgraded to a two-alarm fire.

Once on scene, crews had to deal with heavy fire and smoke coming out a third-story apartment unit balcony, Dong said. There was fire lapping up to the fourth floor, and three of the building’s occupants were injured, he continued. They were transported to the Bothin Burn Center at the Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, and to Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. … Continue reading »

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Fire

Berkeley authorities respond to fire near Ashby, I-80

Photo: Kester Allen
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Update, 4:20 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department Battalion Chief Paul Cavagnaro said the fire in Berkeley on Friday was confined to a 20-by-20-foot area of “pretty thick brush” in the midst of numerous homeless encampments where Bay Street goes over Ashby Avenue near the freeway.

Firefighters were dispatched to the area at 1:16 p.m., and Cavagnaro said the fire was likely out by around 1:30 p.m. There were no injuries.

Cavagnaro said that, despite an initial report that it may have been arson, no one witnessed anyone set anything on fire. He said many homeless people live in the area on both sides of the freeway, but that it’s difficult to estimate how many because the camps are “joined together.”

“We’re not sure how many people are living in the bushes,” he said.

Update, 3:55 p.m. Berkeley Police Lt. Alyson Hart said the fire was limited to property damage at two homeless camps. She said the fire may have been either arson or an accident, and that no one is in custody. Berkeleyside will follow up with the Berkeley Fire Department for additional information.

Original story, 1:50 p.m. Berkeley authorities are responding to a fire near Ashby Avenue and Interstate 80, which is backing up traffic in the area.

Community members in West Berkeley reported the smell of smoke and the sound of loud firetrucks just before 1:30 p.m. near Ashby and Ninth Street. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley neighbors take on ‘noisy and drunken parties’

A student is taken care of by BFD. Image: ABC 7’s I-Team
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Dozens of concerned neighbors met Monday night at the Berkeley Police Department to strategize about how to cut down on “noisy and drunken disturbances,” particularly in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood.

The city of Berkeley is working on an ordinance to try to curtail problematic behavior, which has at times taxed the city’s emergency services and overwhelmed its main emergency room. The ordinance has been scheduled twice to come before the Berkeley City Council in recent weeks, but has now been delayed for consideration until the fall to allow stakeholders in the university community to weigh in.

In the interim, the Berkeley Safe Neighborhoods Committee — which hosted Monday night’s meeting — is bringing local residents into the discussion. At the end of the meeting, attendees agreed to form a working group to try to ensure that their views and input are part of the city process.

Jim Hynes, assistant to Berkeley’s city manager, told the group of about 30 that the city decided to consider expanding existing laws about mini-dorms to all group living accommodations following media attention to the issue, as well as concerns expressed by the Alta Bates emergency room.

“There were weekends where 50-75% of their emergency beds were filled with drunk students,” he said, forcing the hospital to divert other incoming patients to Highland and Summit hospitals in Oakland. “There were times when they couldn’t divert, and had to set up, essentially, disaster triage areas for drunk students.” … 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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Berkeley police report first pepper spray use of 2015

Image: Google maps
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A Berkeley Police officer used pepper spray to subdue a naked man covered with blood who wielded a glass shard and charged a firefighter in late March, according to a document posted on the city website Friday.

Police must complete a brief form — which is made public — any time officers use pepper spray, as directed by a Berkeley City Council vote in 1997 (which also prohibited the use of pepper spray as a crowd control technique). The Berkeley Police Department is supposed to inform council and the city’s Police Review Commission about the use of pepper spray within seven days.

Under the department’s regulations governing use of force, “reasonable force” may be used to make an arrest, prevent an escape, overcome resistance or maintain order. Anytime pepper spray is used, officers must complete a form summarizing its use, and pass that form on to the division commander, who ultimately turns it over to the chief of police.

According to the April 15 report, a man pulled a fire alarm March 28 on Haste Street at 11:19 a.m. He also discharged a fire extinguisher, pulled a main water valve, emptied water from the sprinklers and broke out a 4-foot-by-3-foot window on the fourth floor of the building, according to the recent report. The man charged a firefighter responding to the scene, and the firefighter called for back-up. … 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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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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