Tag Archives: Berkeley Fire Department

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

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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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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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Police

Breaking: Berkeley cyclist dies after hit and run

Michael Lake. Photo: Courtesy of family
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A Berkeley cyclist has died following a hit-and-run crash with a car earlier this month on University Avenue, authorities said Tuesday.

The driver in that incident left the scene, and police are continuing to investigate the collision as a hit and run.

The Alameda County coroner’s office identified the man Tuesday as 64-year-old Michael Lake of Berkeley.

He died at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center at 9:05 p.m. Monday.

A family member, Gwendolyn West, told Berkeleyside that Lake died Monday night “after being moved into post-hip-surgery rehabilitation.” … 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

Cyclist seriously injured in Berkeley hit-and-run

Paramedics placed a man onto a gurney at the scene of a hit-and-run accident at University and McGee avenues, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Jan. 13. The victim was riding a bicycle. Photo: David Yee
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A cyclist remains in the hospital with serious injuries after he was struck by a driver who left the scene in Berkeley on Tuesday night.

Police have released minimal details about the incident.

Berkeley Police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer Coats said the accident took place just before 6:45 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 13, on University Avenue at McGee Avenue.

Coats said by email that dispatchers received calls about an injury collision involving a vehicle and cyclist, as well as reports that the driver had fled the scene.

The bicyclist suffered serious injuries and was still in the hospital as of about 7 p.m. Wednesday. … 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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