Smoke from the downtown Berkeley fire could be seen from far away. Photo: Jacob Wolkenhauer

Emergency crews responded to a two-alarm fire at a multi-story apartment building at 2112 Roosevelt Avenue (at Addison). Two occupants were being assessed on the scene.

Berkeley Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief David Brannigan told Berkeleyside that the call came in at 4:51 p.m. for a working fire in a first-floor apartment that spread to an upper apartment, after which it was upgraded to a second-alarm fire. The knock-down of the fire was fairly swift, he said, and BFD declared it under control before 5:30 p.m.

Berkeley Police evacuating surrounding properties and the Red Cross was helping displaced residents. Brannigan said it was unclear whether the two victims needed to be taken to the hospital.

Asked about the speed of the response, Brannigan said: “The fire is about a block from our headquarters. We got the call and I turned around and saw the fire from my office window. We got there very fast.”

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On Twitter, one Berkeley resident described the smoke from the fire, which billowed over central Berkeley, as smelling “like gunpowder.”

Doug Finley lives across the street from the building where the fire broke out. He described the fire as starting “in a ground-floor apartment at right rear.”

“I grabbed my large (3A40BC) extinguisher and hit the nearest part of the fire, on the fence to the north,” he wrote Berkeleyside by email. “That knocked it back a little, then the extinguisher ran out. The police were there very fast, to block off the block and start pounding on doors to make sure everyone was out. The fire department took a few minutes, but eventually sent at least three trucks plus the ladder truck. The residents of the burning apartment got out, and said they didn’t know what started it. A student upstairs also got out OK.”

At 5:42 p.m. Demi on Twitter asked for more information about the apartment affected by the fire. “Do you have any information about what apartment? I live in that building in apt A and I have a kitten inside. I can’t get ahold of anyone,” she wrote. Berkeleyside attempted to put her in contact with BFD. (Update, 9:45 p.m.: Happy to report that Demi reported her cat as being safe earlier this evening.)

@berkeleyside my spouse is outside and says it smells like gunpowder

— Rage Mopp (@elaitch) May 25, 2017

Thank you to the brave men and women who put out this residential fire. I pray no one was hurt. @berkeleyside

— Luz González (@GonzalezfLuz) May 26, 2017

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The fire broke out on the first floor of an apartment building on Roosevelt and spread to an upper apartment. Photo: Heidi Sachs
The fire broke out on the first floor of an apartment building on Roosevelt and spread to an upper apartment. Photo: Heidi Sachs
Panoramic photo of the fire on Roosevelt Avenue. Photo: Paul Erickson
The fire was upgraded to a two-alarm fire when it spread to a second apartment. Photo: Paul Erickson
Firefighters worked the Roosevelt Avenue fire from the roof. Photo: Doug Finley

This developing story was updated as we got more information. Emilie Raguso contributed reporting.

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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...