Small fires hit Smokehouse burger spot and Berkeley apartment building

The Smokehouse in Berkeley had a small fire Thursday evening. Workers say it will be closed briefly for repairs. Photo: Emilie Raguso

The familiar lights of the Smokehouse on Telegraph Avenue were dark Thursday night during an investigation into a small fire at the longtime Berkeley burger spot, authorities report.

Shakaib Shaghasi, general manager, said the business would likely be closed until early next week for inspections and repairs. He said the rooftop fan caught fire, and that the damage was limited largely to the fan.

Assistant Berkeley Fire Chief Keith May said firefighters were called at 5:31 p.m. to the Smokehouse, at 3115 Telegraph Ave. (at Woolsey Street). The first unit arrived at 5:36 p.m. and the fire was reported under control at 5:47 p.m. One minor injury was reported but the patient refused service, May said.

The cause of the fire, which May said was confined to the kitchen, was still being investigated as of Thursday night. BFD confirmed just after publication that the grease fire in the kitchen was confined to the flue and fan.


The burnt-out rooftop fan that caught fire was resting on the sidewalk as PG&E workers responded to the burger shop Thursday around 6:30 p.m.

Left: PG&E on scene at the Smokehouse. Right: the burnt fan from the roof. Photos: Emilie Raguso

A small group of Smokehouse employees stood on the sidewalk as PG&E looked around the kitchen with flashlights. Shaghasi said firefighters told him the business could have lost its roof had the fire taken longer to extinguish. He said the fan would be replaced and he hoped to be open by Tuesday.

Shaghasi said he would provide another update to Berkeleyside when he could. The Smokehouse opened in Berkeley in 1951.

The Smokehouse fire came on the heels of a single-alarm fire Thursday afternoon at a South Berkeley apartment building across from Walgreens near Berkeley Bowl.

May said BFD got a call to the 2800 block of Shattuck Avenue — between Stuart and Oregon streets — at 3:55 p.m. for a report of “black smoke coming from the rear of an apartment on the first floor.”

When firefighters arrived at 4 p.m., they confirmed it was a working fire. The sprinkler system held the fire in check, and it was under control at 4:09 p.m., he said.

One resident was taken to a local emergency room for treatment, May said, but his injuries were unknown. No other injuries were reported.

Berkeleyside saw the older man being taken to the ambulance and he appeared conscious and alert as a medical crew assessed him.

May said the apartment fire appeared to have originated in a kitchen but was still under investigation.

Shattuck Avenue was closed from Ward Street down to Oregon Street while firefighters responded to that scene.

Damage estimates were not immediately available.

As it happened, Berkeley Fire Academy recruits were training at the city’s drill tower when the Shattuck Avenue call came out. They were sent to the scene to help with sifting and clean-up work after the fire was put out. (They appear in the brief video clip above by Berkeleyside’s Emilie Raguso.)