Photo: William Newton
Sewer excavation work apparently led to Tuesday’s fire in Berkeley. Photo: William Newton

The Berkeley Fire Department put out a fire, in the 1700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Tuesday afternoon, that started in a gas line then spread to a utility truck and the roof of a nearby home, authorities said.

Martin Luther King was closed for two blocks, between Delaware and Virginia streets, while emergency crews responded.

The Fire Department was notified of the incident at 2:28 p.m., said Interim Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. It was called in as a car fire.

Webb said the fire started when somebody — possibly doing sewer excavation work nearby — punctured a gas line, which ignited and set on fire a utility truck parked in a driveway.

PG&E responded to the area along with the Fire Department. Webb said 18 firefighters were on scene to douse the flames. The fire was extinguished by 3:58 p.m.

No one was inside the house, a communal residence where 8-9 people live, said Webb, and no one was injured during the incident.

Firefighters had to remove 18-20 feet of eaves from the roof due to smoldering. Reader Aaron Gobler shared the following video, which shows flames shooting out from the truck.

YouTube video

Councilman Jesse Arreguín said he rushed to the scene of the fire at around 3:15 p.m., because it’s close to city council offices and also in his district. “I was relieved to discover that no one was injured and that the damage to the housing structure is ostensibly minimal. It’s a credit to our Fire Department, and other first responders that quickly got the situation under control,” he said via email.

Berkeleyside editor Tracey Taylor contributed reporting to this story and community member William Newton shared photos at the scene with Berkeleyside.

Photo: William Newton
Photo: William Newton
Photo: William Newton

Anthony Sanchez, with Councilman Jesse Arreguín’s office, posted the following photo online as well. Martin Luther King Jr. Way was closed during the incident.

MLK fire. Photo: Anthony Sanchez

A firefighter gets hosed off by team members in the following video, shared by Aaron Gobler.

YouTube video

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...