A fire broke out at 1802 Bonita Ave. near Delaware Street around 5:06 a.m. Monday morning, displacing 15 people living in various rooms.
No-one was injured in the blaze, which sent huge flames shooting above the white, three-story Victorian-style house.
“When crews arrived they found fire and smoke coming from the third story,” said Berkeley Fire Chief Gil Dong. “It looked like a dormer attic space.”
The fire was put out by 6:06 a.m., Dong said. He did not have a damage estimate.
Firefighters are investigating whether a wall heater on the second floor caused the blaze, according to KTVU news.
The official estimate of the number of people affected by the blaze has gone from seven to 15 over the course of a few hours. When fire officials first arrived, they were told there were seven residents, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. The owner of the building then told officials that 12 people lived in the home. But an investigation by the fire marshal now suggests that as many as 15 people were in the house when the fire broke out, said Webb.
“This is a converted residence and apparently there are people everywhere,” said Webb. “Whether people were ‘officially’ living here or not is in question.”
“It is not unusual to have large residences converted for multiple occupancy in a university town,” said Webb.
The Red Cross is on the scene to assist those displaced, said Dong. He was not exactly certain of their living arrangements, but did not think they were in separate apartments.
A pull station fire alarm box on the first floor had been activated, said Webb. He was not certain if one of the residents pulled the fire alarm to inform others of the fire, or whether it had been tripped prior to this morning.
Berkeleyside will update this story as more information becomes available.