Berkeley fires displace 1 from home, damage businesses

"The overall concern is keeping companies in service," BFD said, "because of the increase in temperatures and fire activity around the Bay area."

Berkeley fires displace 1 from home, damage businesses
A Berkeley firefighter carries a hose line near a vacant warehouse in the 600 block of Page Street where a fire broke out Sunday, July 30, 2023. Ariel Nava Photo

It was a "fairly busy weekend" for Berkeley firefighters — with a dryer fire that displaced a Berkeley Hills woman, two encampment fires and a fire at the Transfer Station.

The house fire, which involved a dryer, took place Saturday around 7:30 p.m. in the 400 block of Vassar Avenue in the Berkeley Hills, authorities said.

The fire was fed by natural gas and extended into a closet area where the dryer was stored, BFD said.

Arriving firefighters found only light smoke.

Most of the blaze was knocked down using a fire extinguisher, BFD said, but firefighters also ran a hose line inside.

The fire damage was limited but heavy smoke rendered the home uninhabitable and a woman had to be relocated, the Berkeley Fire Department said.

Berkeley Transfer Station fire

A debris fire Sunday caused large flames at the Transfer Station but ultimately there was minimal structural damage, BFD said. Berkeley Fire

A large pile of wood caught fire at the Berkeley Transfer Station at 1201 Second St. early Sunday morning in northwest Berkeley.

The fire's cause remains undetermined, BFD said.

A security guard on site only realized something was burning when he got an alert via the Citizen app: People on the freeway had seen flames in the area and called it in, authorities said.

The incident began at about 2:15 a.m. when BFD got calls about large flames and a roof on fire at the Transfer Station.

But, when they got there, firefighters realized the fire was largely confined to a pile of wood that was burning up against the back of the building.

The fire warped the metal siding of the Transfer Station but the main structure remained intact and saw only minimal damage, BFD said.

The fire was under control within about a half-hour but crews remained on site until about 5 a.m. to handle the aftermath.

Berkeley warehouse fire on Page Street

Property inside a vacant warehouse in the 600 block of Page Street in northwest Berkeley caught fire Sunday around 11:30 a.m., possibly due to an encampment inside, BFD said.

The fire burned some kind of large air filter inside a building in the old Pacific Steel complex, BFD said.

Firefighters had to force their way into the building through a roll-up door and regular doorway.

They found evidence that someone had been living inside, including a tent and signs of warming and cooking fires.

The fire created a lot of smoke but was under control within about 10 minutes.

"It was easy to put out with just a single hose line," said BFD Battalion Chief Bill Kehoe. "There's not much to burn inside there."

Firefighters cleared the area within 45 minutes.

Encampment fire damages business on Allston Way

A business in the 700 block of Allston Way, alongside the railroad tracks in West Berkeley, sustained an estimated $10,000 in damage in a fire Sunday afternoon, Kehoe said.

The incident began around 2 p.m. when an encampment fire spread through vegetation on the west side of a siding business, damaging it.

The fire burned an area of about 150 feet by 10 feet between the building and the railroad tracks, Kehoe said.

It also made its way inside the building, burning the window area.

The business would have been unoccupied for the weekend but the owner had stopped by to have lunch there with his son, Kehoe said.

Firefighters were at the scene until nearly 4 p.m. Sunday.

Berkeley Fire aims to be "in service and at the ready"

Overall, Kehoe described it as a "fairly busy weekend."

"Sometimes we have days like that," he said. "The next will be a bunch of medical calls."

"The overall concern is keeping companies in service," he added, "because of the increase in temperatures and fire activity around the Bay area."

Vegetation fires have picked up as a result of the weather, Kehoe added: "Our goal is to remain in service and at the ready."

All four of the fires were single-alarm incidents, which is the basic response to a fire.

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