Demolition began this morning on the Sequoia Building at 2441 Haste Street at the corner of Telegraph Avenue in order to make what remains of the fire-damaged structure safe.

Beginning at the top corner of the five-story building, the brick structure was slowly pulled apart, and bricks, window frames and metal balconies cascaded to the ground.

The building, which was built in 1916, will be brought down to a height of 29.5 feet at which point the remaining structure will be reinforced. At that point fire investigators will be able to begin an inspection to try to determine the cause of the November 18th fire, and the currently closed intersection will be re-opened for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The Berkeley fire marshall has committed the building’s owners, Kenneth and Gregory Ent, to leaving a 25-ft radius intact around the elevator mechanical room, which is where the fire is believed to have originated.

By Tuesday afternoon much of the top level of the building had been demolished — as the photo below shows.

The City of Berkeley expects the “Make Safe” demolition is to be completed by December 5th.

Local Telegraph Avenue merchants have been affected by the disruption and street closures. Councilmember Kriss Worthington told Berkeleyside he plans to bring an item to the City Council asking that parking in the immediate area be free in order to encourage shoppers to patronize local businesses.

Demolition began on the corner of the Sequoia Building. By mid-afternoon Tuesday much of the top of the building was gone. Photo: Ira Serkes

Sequoia: Demolition imminent as tenants meet to complain [11.28.11]
Shop Telegraph: Help area recover from fire say officials [11.25.11]
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]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...