Tag Archives: Berkeley Fire Department

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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Berkeley warehouse fire started accidentally; Wooden Duck not insured for content loss

The remains of the Import Tile warehouse that burned on April 12. Photo: Evelyn Larsen
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The fire that erupted in a West Berkeley warehouse on Saturday, seriously damaging or destroying numerous businesses, started accidentally, according to fire officials.

“There didn’t seem to be any indication this was a malicious fire,” said Berkeley Fire Department Deputy Chief Avery Webb. “The investigation is ongoing but they have ruled out a malicious origin.” … Continue reading »

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After a West Berkeley blaze, praise for the firefighters

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Eric Gellerman, owner of The Wooden Duck furniture store, says he has nothing but thanks for the firefighters who fought the blaze that engulfed a building on Second Street in West Berkeley on Saturday night.

The store’s warehouse is “a total loss,” he said Sunday. However, The Wooden Duck’s showroom and store, which fronts Eastshore Highway, was saved. Gellerman said it turned out that the wall between the store and the warehouse was 3 to 4 feet thick and held the flames at bay.

“Even the firefighters were amazed,” he said Sunday, while he and others mopped up water at the scene. “Apparently there were three ‘old-timers’ from Fire Station 7 in the Berkeley Hills to whom we owe a debt of gratitude,” he said. … Continue reading »

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West Berkeley fire causes $5 million in damage, destroys 20 artisan businesses

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The huge fire that ripped through a building on Second Street in West Berkeley on Saturday night not only affected well-known businesses like Import Tile and The Wooden Duck, but destroyed the livelihood of more than 20 artisans.

The business condominium at 1802 Second St. that was destroyed was home to a collective of small artisans and craft builders who shared a woodworking shop, a metal fabrication shop, computer-controlled machinery and large work areas, according to Joshua Goldberg, who put together the space in 2005. He is also the owner of Joshua Tree Furniture, which was completely destroyed by the five-alarm fire.

“I am sort of overwhelmed with grief right now,” Goldberg said Sunday morning. “It’s 20 people’s livelihoods.” … Continue reading »

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Local business

4 Berkeley businesses, including Wooden Duck, Import Tile damaged in 5-alarm warehouse fire

The fire on Saturday night Photo: Davoud Kermaninejad
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This breaking news story was updated as more information became available. Watch this feed on Twitter — no account needed — for live updates. Frances Dinkelspiel, of Berkeleyside, reported from the scene. Scroll down for a video of the fire taken by freeway travelers. We posted an update Sunday, April 13, shortly before noon.

Update, April 13, 12:10 p.m.: The Wooden Duck reports via Facebook that it will be closed Sunday but “hopefully reopening tomorrow. Our San Rafael store will be open 12-5. Thanks again for all your thoughts and prayers as we push through this rough road. We will release more information about our reopening as soon as possible.”

Update, April 13, 12:33 a.m.: The Wooden Duck reports that it was not destroyed in Saturday night’s 5-alarm fire, as some media have reported, although Joshua Tree Furniture was destroyed, as well as a warehouse for Import Tile. No injuries were reported. The Wooden Duck posted the following message on Berkeleyside.

The fire that we experienced tonight was in our BACK WAREHOUSE not in the store and factory buildings. The store building was untouched and we’re not sure if the factory building sustained damaged from fire or water as we couldn’t go into it tonight. … Continue reading »

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‘Suspicious substance’ in Berkeley turns out to be plaster

Image: Google Maps
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A report of a suspicious white substance in the 1900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way closed a central Berkeley block during a short investigation that caused alarm among neighbors and passers-by Monday evening.

The Berkeley Fire Department ultimately determined that the substance was actually plaster from a resident’s home, authorities said.

Monday at 5:36 p.m., dispatchers received a call from a man who had noticed “white powder in various places around his house,” said officer Byron White, a Berkeley Police spokesman. The man had seen the material in his side yard two days prior. … Continue reading »

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Lightning strikes Berkeley tree, sends wood chunks flying

Split tree
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A giant redwood tree in North Berkeley was struck by lightning at around 1:15 p.m. today and “exploded” sending chunks of wood flying in all directions, according to authorities.

Several windows and skylights in nearby homes were broken out, but there were no reported injuries, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb who estimated the redwood, which is at the intersection of Holly Street and Buena Avenue, had been reduced in size from 70 ft to about 25 ft.

Listen to today’s thunder in this recording, made at around 1:15 p.m., shared with us by Will Galloway:

 

Continue reading »

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Update: Bus fire slows I-80 traffic in Berkeley, no injuries

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Update, 6:45 p.m. Berkeley Fire Department spokesman Deputy Chief Avery Webb said the bus that caught fire Friday morning was a Storer Coachways tourist bus with 21 passengers. Webb said Berkeley firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:16 a.m. for a fire that affected the engine compartment of the bus. Smoke from the fire made its way into the passenger compartment, but the fire itself did not spread beyond the engine area. All the passengers on the bus had gotten off by the time firefighters arrived, and Storer quickly sent another bus to pick them up. No injuries were reported. Berkeley firefighters extinguished the fire when they arrived to the scene, on Interstate 80 between Ashby and University avenues. Webb said there were multiple helicopters in the area as emergency crews responded.

Update, 1:45 p.m. 511.org reports that there are “residual delays” on eastbound I-80 near University Avenue in Berkeley after Friday’s bus fire, but that all lanes are open as of 1:45 p.m.

Update, 1:34 p.m. Via 511.org: “On Friday, March 28th at 1:20pm, the Severe Traffic Alert remains in effect on Eastbound I-80 before University Ave. in Berkeley. The right lane is closed due to a bus fire. Motorists are advised to expect delays and avoid the area. There is no estimated time to reopen the roadway.”

Original story, 12:17 p.m. A tour bus caught fire on Interstate 80 near University Avenue in Berkeley on Friday morning, and a traffic advisory has been issued due to closed lanes on the highway, authorities said. … Continue reading »

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Man drives van into bay near Berkeley, crawls to safety

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A man who accidentally drove his van into the San Francisco Bay near HS Lordships restaurant in Berkeley just after midnight Friday managed to get back to land before authorities arrived to save him.

Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb said Friday that the man, who appeared to be in his 60s, had been parked facing the water toward San Francisco around midnight when the accident occurred.

“As he went to back out, he lost control of the vehicle and made several circles in reverse before going over the side of the embankment into the water,” Webb said.

Authorities in Berkeley received a call about the accident at 12:03 a.m. Dispatchers sent out a “water rescue” team after a vehicle was reported to be in the water off Seawall Drive. Berkeleyside broke the news of the accident on Twitter at 12:06 a.m.  … Continue reading »

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Potentially hazardous chemical suicide in Berkeley called for collaborative response, cautious approach

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The death by chemical suicide earlier this week of a former UC Berkeley professor left many in the community reeling with disbelief.

Berkeleyside’s revelation that the person found dead in a room at the Berkeley City Club was Sydney Kustu, who killed herself on her 71st birthday using a potentially deadly chemical called sodium azide, was shocking to those who had known her, including neighbors and friends who remembered her as “friendly,” “kind” and “generous.” The nature of the death was also so unusual that it prompted many who had not known her to take pause. … Continue reading »

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Elderly woman commits suicide with toxic chemical at Berkeley City Club, leaves note to warn authorities

Berkeley Women's City Club, 2315 Durant Ave, Berkeley, CA
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UPDATE, March 19: Authorities identified the woman who was found dead at the Berkeley City Club on Tuesday as 71-year-old Sydney Kustu. Read more about Kustu in Berkeleyside’s follow-up story, published Wednesday.

UPDATE, 9:10 p.m.: The person who committed suicide today at the Berkeley City Club was an 80-year-old woman who killed herself in her room using sodium azide, according to the Oakland Tribune. The woman lived in an apartment on the third floor of the landmark building, police officer Ethell Wilson said. The Tribune also reported that the woman left a note warning authorities of the dangerous situation. Sodium azide, a colorless salt, is the gas-forming component in many car airbag systems. When mixed with water it is acutely toxic. … Continue reading »

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Person hit, killed by freight train on tracks in Berkeley

The Union Pacific freight train that struck a pedestrian today was still stationary on the tracks at around noon. Photo: Bryan Westfall
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Update, March 18: The Alameda County Coroner’s Bureau has identified the man who was struck and killed by the train as Matthew Finch, 28, of El Cerrito, according to the Bay City News.

Original story: A man was struck and killed by a Union Pacific freight train Monday in Berkeley on the train tracks just south of Harrison Street near the Berkeley-Albany border, authorities said.

The person, believed to be an adult male, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb.

The train, which was headed from Roseville to Oakland, was still stationary on the tracks at around midday, according to Berkeleyside reader Bryan Westfall, who said the front of the engine was located just behind Books Inc. on Berkeley’s Fourth Street.

BFD first received a call about a south-bound train striking a pedestrian at 9:06 a.m. on Monday March 17 at the northernmost part of Berkeley near the grass soccer fields south of Harrison Street. An ambulance, fire engine and the duty fire chief responded. … Continue reading »

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Community, colleagues celebrate life of firefighter

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Firefighters, friends and family gathered on Sunday at the Haas Pavilion on the UC Berkeley campus to remember Tony Nunes, a veteran firefighter who died on Feb. 23 in an off-duty accident.

Nunes, who would have celebrated his 28th year with the Berkeley Fire Department last month, was killed when the tractor he was driving on his family property in Martinez overturned and rolled down a steep hill.

Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong described Nunes as having a personality that would always light up a room. He always had a smile on his face, he said.

Contributing photographer Ted Friedman was at the ceremony to capture the event for Berkeleyside. … Continue reading »

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