Early-morning fire in Elmwood apartment building displaces 5

A two-alarm fire displaced five people early Monday morning at an apartment building in the 2600 block of Etna Street, authorities said.

Monday’s fire on Etna Street near Parker Street caused an estimated $400,000 in damage. Photo: Citizen reporter

A two-alarm fire displaced five people early Monday morning at an apartment building in the 2600 block of Etna Street (near Parker Street) in Berkeley’s Elmwood neighborhood, authorities said.

Firefighters received reports of the fire at the three-story apartment building on Etna just after 2 a.m. and got to the scene at 2:09 a.m., said Assistant Berkeley Fire Chief Keith May.

The building has five units — some of which were vacant — and all of the residents were able to escape the fire without major injuries, May said. The fire caused an estimated $400,000 in damage.

One resident experienced minor smoke inhalation but refused medical transport, and a firefighter sustained a minor hand injury, May said.

The fire on Etna likely originated in a first-floor furnace, May said, but the investigation is still underway. He did not know as of publication time whether the unit where the fire began was occupied or vacant.

Most of the damage was confined to the first and second stories of the building on Etna. The structure sustained major damage, and there was some fire exposure to the single-family home next door, according to May.

“The structure itself is uninhabitable. There was so much damage that I don’t think people can stay there,” May said of the displaced residents. The residents appeared to be college-aged, according to a witness at the scene Monday afternoon.

PG&E responded to the area to secure a power line that was damaged by the fire, and firefighters cleared the scene at 4:26 a.m.

Nearby residents were awakened due to the blaze and emergency response, and a witness observed residents hauling out furniture from the home Monday afternoon.

Editor’s note: This story was updated after publication to clarify several facts.

Supriya Yelimeli is Berkeleyside's general assignment reporter. Email: supriya@berkeleyside.com. Twitter: SupriyaYelimeli. Phone: (510) 585-8315.