Update, Nov. 23: The fire at 2067 University Ave. that broke out Saturday around 5:30 p.m. was still very much active Monday morning with smoke billowing out of the top of the building and firefighters perched high up on ladders aiming strong jets of water through the open roof and gaping window openings.
Because the building is inaccessible, and therefore the source of the continuing fire is hard to identify, Berkeley Fire has been using a heat-detecting drone to survey the apartment building from above, according to Chief David Brannigan. A firefighter on scene Monday morning said he assumed the seven-story building — which was to include 50 apartments and a street-level restaurant — would be a total loss.
University Avenue at Shattuck is still closed to traffic and pedestrians. Berkeley Way is closed off at Shattuck Avenue, which is open to traffic.
Original story: The morning after the biggest fire Berkeley has seen in nine years, a thick plume of smoke was still rising from the burnt-out apartment building under construction at 2067 University Ave. (at Shattuck) in downtown Berkeley.
The cause of the fire, which broke out around 5:30 p.m., Saturday is still unknown — crews can’t access the inside of the building which makes it impossible to investigate and identify the source. Inspectors were at the site Sunday morning to assess the risk of collapse, something first responders were acutely aware of last night.
Berkeley Fire Chief David Brannigan said the plan was for firefighters to be on scene for one or two days more. Residents should expect road closures in the immediate area for several days.
Shortly before 11 a.m., BFD Assistant Chief Keith May said building inspectors would be arriving at the site of the fire to assess the integrity of the buildings adjacent to the building that was on fire.
“We are still unable to access the building of origin to determine a fire cause,” he wrote by email, adding that the two buildings adjacent to the burning structure were still not accessible to the public.
This story was updated after publication due to the developing nature of events.