2-alarm fire in Berkeley causes $350,000 in damage

There was a 2-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Katherine Baylor
There was a two-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Katherine Baylor

A North Berkeley house fire early Monday caused approximately $350,000 in damage and left the home uninhabitable, officials said.

The Berkeley Fire Department received a call at 5:38 a.m. about the fire, in a two-story home in the 1300 block of Delaware Street, between Franklin and Chestnut streets, said Avery Webb, deputy fire chief.

Webb said a caller told dispatch that lots of smoke was coming out from under the eaves of the home, which was not occupied because it was undergoing a remodel. 

There was a 2-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Citizen reporter
There was a two-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Citizen reporter

When firefighters arrived, at 5:44 a.m., they saw fire in the basement area. Inside the basement, they found a gas line feeding the fire, so they shut off gas to the house.


The fire spread through the building, in part, due to the construction project, which had opened up some spots in the wall, Webb said. Fire also made its way upstairs through the chimney chase.

“Smoke and flames went all the way up to the attic,” Webb said.

There was a 2-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Katherine Baylor
There was a two-alarm fire in North Berkeley on Monday morning. Photo: Katherine Baylor

The fire initially was dispatched as a single-alarm assignment — with four engines, a ladder truck, an ambulance and a battalion chief on scene. About half an hour into the battle to knock down the blaze, it was upgraded to a second-alarm fire — bringing three more engines, a ladder truck and an ambulance to the block — as it became clear it would take some time to put out the flames.

“It was difficult getting to some of the concealed spaces in the house because of the remodeling process,” Webb said. “They wanted to get extra staffing on to rotate through because it was clear it was going to be prolonged.”

The fire, which burned a hole from the basement up through the floor of the ground story, was declared under control by 6:39 a.m. No injuries to firefighters were reported.

Authorities are still working to determine the cause of the fire, but it appears to have caused $350,000 in damage to the home. Webb said there is no indication that the fire was caused deliberately.

The city’s building department also went to the scene and “yellow-tagged” the house — meaning it’s not habitable, Webb said, because some of the supports for the floors were severely damaged. Workers can go inside to make repairs, but otherwise it must remain vacant.

Webb said some parts of the first floor were compromised in the fire, and were “red-tagged,” meaning no one is allowed to enter that area at all other than for repairs or official assessments.

“The only people who can go in there have to get permission from the building department, or to repair the structure,” he said.

No other significant structure fire incidents were reported over the weekend.

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Emilie Raguso is Berkeleyside’s senior editor of news. Email: emilie@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: emraguso. Phone: 510-459-8325.