By Tracey Taylor and Frances Dinkelspiel
Update, 9:04 pm: Having now had the opportunity to debrief with responding firefighters, BFD Interim Deputy Chief Avery Webb said that 12 rescues occurred at the site of the fire this morning. Most rescues were made using ground ladders to the second and third floor windows and to the rear fire escape, he said. One rescue was accomplished via the aerial ladder to a third -floor window, he said.
Of the 40+ living units in the hotel, only about 50% were occupied, he said. The Red Cross has offered temporary relocation services to a majority of the occupants.
Fire damage is estimated to be valued at approximately $180,000 to the structure, and $20,000 to the contents of the Nash Hotel.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Original story: A fire broke out on the second floor of the Nash Hotel at 2045 University Avenue this morning and fire crews from around the region responded because there were initial fears that many people might be trapped.
When an alarm was called in to the Berkeley Fire Department at 7:40 a.m., early reports suggested that people were hanging out of upper story windows at the hotel asking for help, according to BFD Acting Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. Berkeley called in mutual aid, and Oakland responded, he said. BFD upgraded the response to a 3-alarm, and took the decision to call in back-up because the hotel is an old building in a densely populated area, he said.
Firefighters responded aggressively to the fire, which started in an apartment on the second floor and it was under control by 8:20 a.m, said Webb. Three people were treated on the scene, mainly for smoke inhalation.
University Avenue was closed between Shattuck and Milvia this morning. At 8:45 a.m. Webb said the eastbound direction would be reopened soon, but westbound would be closed for a number of hours while crews mop up the scene and investigators worked to determine the cause of the fire.
The Nash Hotel is a 40-room residential hotel with commercial spaces on the ground floor.