Tag Archives: Berkeley Fire Department

72K people participate in Berkeley’s ‘Great ShakeOut’

Kids participate in the Great Shakeout at LeConte Elementary School. Photo: Daphne White
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The principal did it. The janitor did it. The students did it. At 10:20 a.m. last Thursday, everyone at LeConte Elementary School in Berkeley participated in the Great ShakeOut earthquake drill. They dropped under the nearest table, covered their heads, and held on tight.

The purpose of the annual ShakeOut event is to raise awareness of the need for preparedness and to remind people to practice actual earthquake survival behaviors.

“Your past experience in earthquakes may give you a false sense of safety,” the ShakeOut website notes. “You likely have never experienced the kind of strong earthquake shaking that is possible in much larger earthquakes: sudden and intense back and forth motions of several feet per second will cause the floor or the ground to jerk sideways out from under you, and every unsecured object around you could topple, fall, or become airborne, potentially causing serious injury.”

Read more about disaster preparedness.

Berkeley had 72,000 registered participants in the Great ShakeOut, including the city of Berkeley, UC Berkeley, Berkeley National Lab, Alta Bates, seven schools and 18 neighborhood groups.

“The event gave us an opportunity to test out the Berkeley Emergency Notification System (BENS),” said Dave Brannigan, the Berkeley Fire Department’s assistant chief for special operations. “We don’t get to use the system very often, and it’s a fairly complicated system. The more we practice using it, the better.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley congregation shows resilience in wake of fire

After a fire Sept. 30 at the First Congregational Church in Berkeley, a sign thanks firefighters for their work. Photo: Fred Werner
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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 »

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Police disarm suicidal prowler with knife after standoff

Police activity on Dohr and Russell on Tuesday morning. Photo: Kester Allen
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A 50-year-old Berkeley man who threatened to kill himself as he held a knife to his throat surrendered to officers early Tuesday morning after about six hours with a police negotiator, authorities said.

The standoff began in the 2900 block of Dohr Street, near Russell Street, just before 4 a.m. Tuesday, said Berkeley Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Frankel.

Dispatch got a call at that time about a suspicious person or prowler, and officers responded. When police tried to speak with the man, said Frankel, he “pulled out a knife and held it to his own throat and threatened suicide.”

One local resident noticed two fire engines and four police cruisers at Dohr and Russell around 6:50 a.m., and asked Berkeleyside to find out what was going on. By about 7:10 a.m., there were seven police cruisers on the scene. Three hours later, there were three fire engines and 10 police cruisers, he estimated.

Said another neighborhood resident, on Twitter, “we were woken up at 4am by what sounded like someone in the area having a mental break.” … Continue reading »

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Cyclist sustains serious injuries after vehicle crash

A cyclist was taken to the hospital with serious injuries after a crash with a motorist Tuesday. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel
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Update, Thursday, 1:30 p.m. BPD is looking for witnesses to the crash. Authorities ask anyone who saw the collision to call Sgt. Emily Murphy at 510-981-5982 or email her at ejmurphy@ci.berkeley.ca.us.

The cyclist remains in the Intensive Care Unit, BPD reports.

Update, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2 p.m. The cyclist, a 25-year-old Berkeley man, remains in the ICU, authorities report. (Berkeley Police originally erroneously told Berkeleyside the cyclist was a woman.)

Update, 8 p.m. BPD traffic investigators have left the scene.

Update, 6:50 p.m. Berkeley investigators remain on Sacramento Street working to document the scene after a crash earlier Tuesday that caused serious injuries to a cyclist. Several blocks of northbound Sacramento remain closed. … Continue reading »

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Update: Pipe repair may not be done before commute

EBMUD workers repair a broken water main at University Avenue and Grant Street, in Berkeley, on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Photo: David Yee
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Update, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 5:28 a.m. EBMUD says water should be back on for customers by about 8 a.m., according to the latest info, “however work in the street will continue as we work with the city of Berkeley to facilitate coordination of other underground utilities.”

Update, Oct. 5, 4:15 a.m. EBMUD reports: “University Avenue down to one lane but open; Grant is closed. Crews are working now to install the new pipe however we have some utility coordination to do with the city of Berkeley. We are all working to get the customers’ water service back on and the street opened as quickly as we can. Right now it’s unclear if the road will be fully open in time for the morning commute.”

Scroll down for photos and video from the scene.

Update, 5 p.m. EBMUD is now estimating that repairs to a pipe that broke in Berkeley will be done by 2 a.m. Wednesday. The 83-year-old cast iron main was reported to have burst at 12:35 p.m., according to a statement released by the agency just before 5 p.m. Berkeleyside has been reporting updates since 12:41 p.m.

Traffic in the area, on University Avenue and nearby, continues to be disrupted in both directions, and detours are in place. … Continue reading »

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Update: Berkeley church says 3-alarm fire caused by roof work, crews still on scene, streets closed

Fire on Channing at the First Congregational Church. Photo: Ted Friedman
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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 »

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‘Suspicious package’ shuts down Public Safety Building

Berkeley Police Department. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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Berkeley authorities were on alert Wednesday afternoon after a suspicious package appeared at the Public Safety Building, which houses the police and fire departments, authorities said.

The Fire Department’s Hazardous Materials Team and the Police Department’s Bomb Squad were sent to investigate the package, said Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken, at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

A “shelter in place” order was put into effect for building occupants when the package was discovered shortly before 4:20 p.m.

Authorities shut down the sidewalk and a southbound traffic lane on Martin Luther King Jr. Way from Addison Street down to Allston Way during the investigation. One lane of southbound traffic remained open for vehicles.  … Continue reading »

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Semitruck catches fire near Ashby exit on eastbound I-80

Photo: Jaige Rudner
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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 »

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Fire downtown in structure on Shattuck and University

Firefighters are battling a blaze at University and Shattuck Avenues.
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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 »

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Berkeley Fire Department responds to small fire on Durant

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to an apartment fire Monday. Photo: Emilie Raguso
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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 »

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Memorial garden dedicated to late Berkeley firefighter

Berkeley Fire Department dedication ceremony on Sunday Sept. 11, 2016. Photo: KLC Fotos
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On Sunday Sept. 11, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Berkeley firefighters held a ceremony to dedicate the department’s memorial garden at the city’s Fire Station 6 at 999 Cedar St.

The garden, a place where Berkeley firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty are remembered, was dedicated on Sunday to deceased firefighter Tony Nunes. Nunes died in February 2014 in an accident on his family property in Martinez. He was 54 and had worked for the department for 28 years.

Several city leaders were in attendance, including council members Lori Droste, Linda Maio, Susan Wengraf and Kriss Worthington.

“Berkeley Firefighters gathered… to recognize lives lost in the line of duty, both here in Berkeley and across the country,” said BFD’s Colin Arnold. “They shared a moment of silence to remember the victims of 9/11, and reflected on stories of peers who had lost their lives.” … Continue reading »


Authorities respond to burning car in Berkeley Hills

A car located near the Lawrence Hall of Science caught fire Friday causing billowing smoke to be spotted around town. Photo: Nate Miller
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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 »

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After crash, Berkeley fifth-grader rides to school in style

Lillia Bartlow points to the fire engine arriving at her house to escort her to school on Tuesday Aug. 30. Photo: Kelly Sullivan
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Lillia Bartlow got to ride in style to her first day of fifth grade at John Muir Elementary School on Tuesday.

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.
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