Update, Monday, July 10: The July 5 house fire on Claremont Boulevard caused an estimated $180,000 in damages, according to a Berkeley Fire Department spokesman. The department’s investigators have not been able to determine the cause of the fire, but nothing has stood out as suspicious, said Kieth May, assistant fire chief.
The house is owned by St. Clement’s Episcopal Church. The minister lives there with his family, said a church spokeswoman. The minister’s wife, who tried to put out the fire before firefighters arrived, was sent to the hospital but not ultimately admitted, she said.
Original story: Emergency crews from Berkeley responded to a house fire Wednesday afternoon in the 2800 block of Claremont Boulevard in the Claremont neighborhood.
A woman who had been inside was taken by ambulance to the hospital for smoke inhalation.
The fire was in the second and third floors of a house, and it was under control within around 15 minutes of firefighters arriving, according to Berkeley Fire Department Assistant Chief Abe Roman.
The call originally came in as a smoke alarm alert at 12:33 p.m. The caller told dispatchers flames could be seen. Crews arrived at 12:36 p.m. and confirmed no one was in the house, despite an initial report that two people were inside, according to a scanner recording reviewed by Berkeleyside. Fire crews could see flames coming from the second story when they arrived, and later said the fire was burning in the attic, where brown smoke could be seen at one point.
During the response, a power line in front of the house went down, according Assistant Fire Chief Keith May, and PG&E was called to the scene to shut off gas and electric services.
According to a Berkeley Police Department alert sent at 12:53 p.m., Claremont between Derby and Russell streets is closed north- and southbound, and Avalon Avenue at Oak Knoll Path is also closed in both directions due to the fire.
Berkeleyside updated this developing story as we gathered more details. Reporting was contributed by Frances Dinkelspiel, Natalie Orenstein and Emilie Raguso.