A view of the Sequoia Building from Haste Street. Photo: Ira Serkes

Update, 5:18pm: Writing in the Berkeley Voice, Doug Oakley reports that the owner of the Sequoia Building will begin tearing it down Monday, but it remains in danger of collapsing and is a public safety problem until that happens, according to city officials.

Roland Peterson, executive director of the Telegraph Avenue Business Improvement District, tells Oakley that a demolition permit was issued late Wednesday and he has been told that what remains of the structure will be taken down to 29 feet above the ground and everything above that will be demolished.

Original story: The Berkeley Fire Department has determined that all the people who were living at 2441 Haste Street, the large apartment building that went up in flames last week, have been accounted for.

Officials were concerned that not everyone may have escaped the fire at the Sequoia Building, which burned for more than 24 hours. They quickly realized that the building’s 68 official residents were accounted for, but were concerned that “casuals,” i.e. people who stayed in apartments at the Sequoia Building on and off, may have been inside.

“We just wanted to share the good news that Berkeley Fire reports that thanks to great cooperation between multiple agencies and organizations, all 68 residents of 2441 Haste have been accounted for,” Mary Kay Clunies-Ross, Berkeley’s spokeperson, said in an email sent out on Thanksgiving. “There were no firefighter or civilian injuries or fatalities as a result of that building’s five-alarm fire on 11/18.”

Despite the fire that ravaged the nearby Sequoia Building, 150 people turned out Tuesday night to hear author Jonathan Lethem and others talk about Philip K. Dick at Moe's Books. Photo: Moe's

The intersection at Telegraph and Haste has also been partially reopened. Cars traveling west on Haste can now take a left (but not right) turn onto Telegraph.

Local merchants and city officials are encouraging shoppers to visit Telegraph as part of a nationwide “Shop Small’ local business campaign on Saturday. There are more than 200 stores on the street.

“Telegraph Avenue merchants provide quality, unique shopping opportunities for the holidays, and this year is no exception,” City of Berkeley Economic Development Manager Michael Caplan said in a press release. “The holidays are about community, and retailers across Berkeley know this better than anyone. Shopping locally is an easy way to make a difference. Studies show that dollars spent at local, independent businesses re-circulate in the region up to three times more. These days, that can have a big impact.”

For a list of all the merchants on Telegraph Avenue, from Adidas and Amoeba Music, through Moe’s Books and Bill’s Footwear, to 510 Skateboarding, visit Telegraph Live.

The fate of the Sequoia Apartments is still uncertain, although city officials have red-tagged it since it is in danger of collapse. It will either have to be propped up or torn down and rebuilt.

The Sequoia Building: At heart of Berkeley’s rich heritage [11.23.11]
End of the road for an historic building? [11.22.11]
Friday’s fire “another hit in the face” for Telegraph Avenue [11.21.11]
“Largest fire since 1991″ leaves many locals homeless [11.19.11]
Devastating fire in apartment building, Haste at Telegraph [11.19.11]

Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...