Update: 12:35 p.m. The garage that caught on fire in the rear of a house in the 1300 block of Arch Street is a total loss, according to David Brannigan, deputy fire chief for the Berkeley Fire Department. BFD got a call at 4:22 a.m.
“Upon arrival, our crews saw flames that extended above the trees and house and called the 2nd alarm to prevent the spread to surrounding structures and vegetation,” Brannigan said in an email.
The detached garage was so damaged that the fire investigator could not determine the cause, he said. The surrounding structures were also damaged by the heat and suffered cracked windows and blistered paint, but the fire did not spread to them. Several cars were also damaged by the heat.
The house in the front of the property, as well as the garage, had been recently renovated, said Brannigan.
Original story, 8:03 a.m. Residents of the 1300 block of Arch and Spruce streets were ordered to evacuate their homes around 4:50 a.m. when a fire broke out in a garage in an alleyway, according to Berkeley police.
Those woken from their sleep were told to go to the 2300 block of Rose Street, according to Berkeley police. The Berkeley Fire Department quickly knocked down the flames and residents were gradually allowed back into their homes. Smoke lingered in the area and police recommended that residents keep their windows shut.
Brad Johnson, who lives in the neighborhood, wrote to Berkeleyside to say he heard sirens around 4:30 a.m.
“I saw flames through the tops of houses (from Spruce and Rose) with large embers flying,” Johnson wrote. “BPD went door-to-door along Spruce Street on the east side. The house appears to be on Arch. The visible fire died almost instantly when BFD got the water going. I heard some people on the street talking about somebody in an alley trying to put out flames. And a couple of people very upset.”