Shasta Road fire: Still no cause, Berkeley Fire Department says

A woman in her 60s sustained second-degree burns from the fire and required surgery. She has been in the hospital since Dec. 26.

Shasta Road fire: Still no cause, Berkeley Fire Department says
The home on Shasta Road that was destroyed in a fire just after Christmas. Ariel Nava Photo

A woman in her 60s is finally set to leave the hospital Friday after sustaining serious burns just after Christmas in a fire at her Shasta Road home in the Berkeley Hills.

The woman sustained second-degree burns and required surgery, her daughter told The Berkeley Scanner. Her injuries initially were described by authorities as minor, but that was incorrect.

"My mom will finally be released from the hospital tomorrow," she said Thursday. "Her ongoing all-around health is my number one concern."

The homeowner's daughter said she was out of town when the fire broke out.

"I don't know what happened but the pictures were very sad to see," she said.

The Berkeley Fire Department said, as of this week, the cause of the fire has not been determined.

And that information may never be known, authorities said.

"The burning was so intense and extensive that it will be difficult to impossible to make a specific cause determination," Berkeley Fire Chief Dave Sprague said in the days after the fire. "They will likely be able to determine the vicinity it started (room or rooms) but not the cause."

On Dec. 26, reports of the blaze, on Shasta Road near Sterling Avenue, began coming in at 6:50 p.m.

The first BFD unit arrived at 6:54 pm. Two minutes later, the fire was upgraded to a second alarm, which brought more firefighters to the scene.

A man in his 30s — the son of the homeowner, who lived with her — sustained minor burns in the fire and was taken to the hospital, BFD said that night. Two firefighters also sustained minor burns but did not require hospital transport.

In the days after the fire, BFD confirmed that the house was likely a total loss. It was red-tagged Jan. 6, meaning it is unsafe to occupy.

A busy time for the Berkeley Fire Department

The Shasta Road fire was the biggest blaze Berkeley had seen in some time.

It is rare in Berkeley to have destructive fires, and rarer still when they cause serious injuries.

Last week, however, a cooking fire in a senior facility on San Pablo Avenue led to the death of an 80-year-old woman.

On Tuesday, two workers were badly burned during a fire at Bayer in West Berkeley.

And, over the weekend, a fire broke out in an RV by James Kenney Park that reportedly killed a man's dog.

The Berkeley Fire Department also responded this week to a major mudslide in the Berkeley Hills that left five homes red-tagged. One of the houses was seriously damaged.

In the past few weeks, winter storms have also kept Berkeley firefighters busy with dozens of calls about downed trees and power lines.

The Berkeley Scanner will continue to share information about the Shasta Road fire and other critical incidents as it becomes available.