Two homes on Miller Avenue in the Berkeley hills were extensively damaged Wednesday night when a fire that spread to three alarms broke out.

The fire in the heavily wooded area broke out at 8:32 pm at 1005 Miller Avenue near Grizzly Peak, according to Assistant Fire Chief Gil Dong. The fire quickly spread to an adjacent house, prompting officials to evacuate nearby homes. The flames were contained by 10:41 pm, but not before crews from Oakland and Alameda were called to assist.

One of the residences was occupied, but its occupants managed to escape. Two firefighters suffered heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation fighting the blaze, and were treated at Alta Bates Hospital. A live power line fell near a fire truck being used to extinguish the flames, forcing firefighters to abandon the vehicle.

“I noticed a bush alit by flames,” nearby resident Tristan Goldstein told ABC 7 News. “I ran into the kitchen and saw what looked like a burning branch on the fence line and called the fire department.”

At times, the flames from the fire shot 60 feet in the air, lighting up the night sky.

December has been one of the driest months on record, and firefighters fought to stop flames from spreading into the tinder dry brush surrounding the burning homes. Some residents living nearby hosed down their houses to lessen the chance of them catching on fire.

The Berkeley Fire Department also fought a small fire on San Pablo Avenue near Gilman Wednesday in an old bingo parlor, said Dong. Some discarded smoking material caught on fire around 3:13 pm, burning a section of the exterior of 1284 San Pablo Avenue.  There was about $3,000 worth of damage, said Dong.

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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...