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

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.

Several Berkeleyside readers were in touch to ask about the smoke. One was driving up Cedar Street at around 10:30 a.m. when she saw what she described as “a quite large puff of smoke on the crest of the hill.” Sean Itrich said he could see “quite a lot of smoke” when he was traveling on BART from Ashby to MacArthur at approximately the same time.


According to John McDonald, who knows the owner of the car that burned, the owner did not know what caused the fire. The car was a “relatively new” Ford Fusion, McDonald said. And then, perhaps because McDonald is a self-described astronomer and space flight engineer, he added, via Twitter, “fortunately, not nuclear fusion.”

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