Update: No injuries from Blake Street blaze, but residents displaced

Smoke from the central Berkeley blaze was visible from around the city.

Update, 2:50 p.m. No residents or firefighters have been injured by the two-alarm blaze on Blake Street, said BFD Assistant Chief Keith May.

Firefighters arrived to find a two-story residence on fire at 12:06 p.m. “Within a very short time, two additional structures were ignited (a single story to the west of the original address and the other a three-story structure to the rear),” May said in an email. He said the cause and the extent of the damage is still unknown: “This is still an active scene.”

“Firefighters are unable to enter the inside of the original building but are preventing further spread of the fire while in a defensive attack mode,” May wrote. The two other fires have been extinguished.

Thick smoke was visible from the Berkeley Hills. Photo: Michael Schiller

May did not have an estimate for how many people have been displaced by the fires, but he said Red Cross workers are on Blake Street assisting those affected.


Original story, 12: 30 p.m. A fire on the 2000 block of Blake Street was sending thick plumes of smoke up into the air mid-day Tuesday.

The Berkeley Fire Department was just arriving at the scene, between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue, around 12:15 p.m., said Assistant Chief Keith May. He didn’t have further information yet on the cause or whether people were in the structure when it caught fire, but he said the property is residential.

BFD tackles a Blake Street fire. Photo: Richard Nagler

On Twitter, numerous residents starting asking about the visible smoke around 12:12 p.m.

A Nixle alert sent shortly before 1 p.m. advised people to avoid the block. The message said the fire has affected power lines in the area as well.

According to unconfirmed scanner reports, the fire could displace up to 10 people. Over the radio, firefighters said they were reaching out to Oakland and potentially Alameda for mutual aid.


“We’re gonna be here a while,” one said about an hour into the blaze.

City Councilman Ben Bartlett, who went to the scene of the fire, said he was told by BFD that there were no injuries. Bartlett told Berkeleyside in a text message that “the main house caught fire and burned very quickly and damaged the properties on either side.”

He and others on site said a power line had fallen on top of a fire truck.

“Our team handled it expertly,” he said.

This story has been updated throughout the afternoon. Berkeleyside has asked BFD for more information.


People watch the Blake Street fire rage on. Photo: Richard Nagler
BFD arrived at the scene shortly after noon Tuesday. Photo: Richard Nagler

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously a reporter for Berkeleyside. Email: natalie@oaklandside.org. Twitter: nat_orenstein.