Update, March 29: The injured woman is in critical condition, according to a man who has identified himself as her durable power of attorney.
Original story, March 16: A woman was taken to Highland Hospital with moderate injuries Friday after she was badly burned in an explosion in a West Berkeley apartment, authorities report.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, said Assistant Chief Keith May of the Berkeley Fire Department. May said BFD was called to the fire just after 1:30 p.m. Firefighters arrived to the apartment building, at 1213 San Pablo Ave., near Harrison Street, at 1:37 p.m. and saw smoke in the area.
Firefighters put out a small fire, which caused an estimated $2,000 worth of damage, and took the woman to the local trauma center, where she is being treated for moderate injuries. The explosion blew out windows in at least one room, May said. He did not know which room was affected. He said paramedics took the woman to the hospital, and the scene was then turned over to the Berkeley Police Department.
A witness told Berkeleyside contributing photographer David Yee he “heard a pop, then glass breaking and then I saw a woman running with flames on top of her head.” The witness used his hands to indicate the flames rose about a foot high.
Yee, a freelance news photographer, said windows on the north and south sides of the apartment had been blown out during the explosion.
According to unconfirmed scanner traffic reviewed by Berkeleyside, a witness told the 911 center it appeared the woman’s hair was on fire when she ran outside from the apartment. Police who responded to the scene found drug paraphernalia in the apartment, they said over the scanner, as well as aerosol cans that may have been tied to the explosion.
The woman said she had “no recollection of what happened,” according to the unconfirmed scanner reports.
Authorities said they could not confirm these details to Berkeleyside due to privacy laws and the ongoing investigation.
Berkeley Police Lt. Andrew Rateaver said northbound San Pablo Avenue, north of Gilman Street, was closed for some time during the investigation.
Berkeleyside will update this story if additional details become available.