Update, 6:45 p.m. One resident was displaced after a parked vehicle caught on fire on Byron Street in West Berkeley on Saturday afternoon then spread to an adjacent home, authorities report.
The fire, on the northwest corner of Byron and Bancroft Way, caused at least $50,000 in damage, according to an early estimate from Battalion Chief Bill Kehoe of the Berkeley Fire Department. There were no injuries and the woman who was displaced was able to move in with her daughter.
Multiple callers reported the blaze to BFD just after 3:20 p.m., said Kehoe. Firefighters arrived within three minutes. They found a vehicle burning in a driveway with the fire spreading into the single-story triplex just south of it.
The fire got into the nearby home through a kitchen window, Kehoe said, causing “fairly significant” smoke and fire damage to the unit on the north end of the building. He said that apartment would likely require a total rebuild.
The vehicle, which was completely destroyed, belonged to one of the other building residents, who had just parked in the driveway 5-10 minutes before the fire started.
Kehoe said the fire may have been caused by electrical problems in the vehicle. It remains under investigation.
“Car fires are nearly impossible to identify the cause of,” he said. “They just burn completely and there’s just a big ball of wire.”
Initially, there was concern that someone might be trapped in the burning car, but that turned out not to be the case, said Kehoe.
Public Works staff from the city showed up almost immediately to vacuum up water, foam and debris to ensure runoff didn’t make it into the storm drain.
“Their assistance on this fire was outstanding,” Kehoe said. “I was amazed at their quick response and their hard work.”
The single-alarm blaze, with 18 firefighters who responded, was under control within about 25 minutes, Kehoe said. Firefighters were on the scene until shortly after 5 p.m.
The other two residents of the property were able to return home after firefighters completed their work.
Despite heavy smoke at the outset of the response, Kehoe said crews were able to handle the fire fast enough to keep it from getting bigger.
“It was a quick response, a quick knock-down on the fire,” he said. “We knocked it down so it didn’t keep growing.”
Original story: Authorities have asked everyone to avoid the 2200 block of Byron Street, near Bancroft Way, in West Berkeley due to a building on fire.
Police sent a Nixle alert about the fire just before 3:40 p.m.
They provided no additional details.
Just before 3:30 p.m., a reader alerted Berkeleyside to the incident, writing on Twitter about a “Big fire in Berkeley with lots of smoke and tons of sirens.”
Berkeleyside will update this post when additional detail is available. Have photos, video or other information to share? Please send them to Berkeleyside.
Correction: This story originally misidentified the location of the fire. It has been fixed.