Police and firefighters were dispatched to West Berkeley early Sunday evening for a fire tied to a homeless encampment at Second and Page streets, authorities report.
“It looks like there’s a fire in West Berkeley,” a Berkeleyside reader who shared a photograph of smoke near the Interstate 80 freeway told Berkeleyside on Twitter at 5:18 p.m. Another reader described “Billows of dark smoke” near I-80, north of University Avenue.
The Berkeley Fire Department confirmed after publication that crews were dispatched to a homeless encampment to fight the fire.
The call initially came in at 5:15 p.m. as a dumpster fire at 1475 Eastshore Highway, though the address later was updated to Second and Page streets nearby. Authorities said it was actually piles of garbage at a homeless camp that caught fire. No dumpster was involved, Berkeley Police Lt. Peter Hong said.
A police officer who had seen smoke in the area and gone to investigate found the fire burning inside the fenced area of an East Bay Municipal Utility District substation, Hong said. The Berkeley Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire, he said. No damage was reported to nearby structures.
The California Highway Patrol received at least seven reports about the fire, according to its online traffic incident log. The first report came in at 5:14 p.m., according to the log. One caller on the I-80 freeway near University Avenue reported seeing “large amounts of smoke coming from city” at 5:16 p.m.
Berkeleyside has asked the Berkeley Fire Department for details and will update this story if they are provided.
[This story was updated after publication to include additional detail from authorities, as well as photographs from the community.]