West Berkeley RV resident sustains minor injuries in fire

Jeffrey Edwards was able to escape mostly unscathed from the blaze.

Jeffrey-Edwards-RV-Fire
Jeffrey Edwards holds up his phone, which was among the items that burned in a West Berkeley RV fire on April 5, 2022. Credit: Supriya Yelimeli

A West Berkeley resident was slightly injured in an RV fire that broke out Tuesday morning, burning down most of the vehicle and his possessions.

Jeffrey Edwards lived in the RV at Page and Second streets and was sitting inside when an explosion rocked the vehicle, he told Berkeleyside. He was thrown across the RV and his pants caught on fire as he scrambled to reach a large water container to put out the blaze.

The RV quickly went up in flames and he wasn’t able to curb the damage, but Edwards escaped with mostly minor burns to his legs where his pants had melted.

Edwards was sitting next to the burnt RV on Tuesday afternoon sifting through some of the rubble, recovering a chain, a jacket and other objects that made it through the fire. He held up his phone, which was completely burnt, and said he was trying to get a replacement.

Edwards said he declined hospital transport because he wanted to try to recover as many of his possessions as possible, but will seek medical care later.

Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Keith May said firefighters got the call at 9:17 a.m. and the first engine arrived on scene to find heavy smoke and flames at the RV. The fire was extinguished quickly, May said. The cause is unknown.

Edwards believes his RV caught fire because of the presence of propane and a candle that he usually burns for light inside the vehicle.

“When you live without electricity, these things can happen,” Edwards said. “[RVs] are not meant to live in constantly, because of the shortcomings they have. It’s a bomb waiting to go off.”

He has lived in the RV for about eight months, and previously lived in tents near Second Street for about a decade. The RV belongs to a woman who is currently in the hospital, Edwards said, and he wasn’t able to move it when the city offered a spot at the new safe parking site on Grayson Street.

The fire gutted the RV, which will be towed this week.

Over the years, he said he has been unable to secure housing for various reasons. He also believes housing should go to people with more immediate needs, like women, children and people with disabilities.

Edwards said the RV beats the tents he used to live in, but living somewhere that isn’t designed as a permanent dwelling is inherently dangerous, and he feels grateful that he emerged from the fire unscathed. He said he might go back to living in a tent until other housing options become available.

Supriya Yelimeli is Berkeleyside's homelessness and housing reporter. Email: supriya@berkeleyside.org. Twitter: SupriyaYelimeli. Phone: 510-585-8315.