A house in the 1300 block of Haskell Street caught fire May 23, 2023. Credit: Courtesy BFD

City firefighters doused what they believe was a construction-related fire at a Southwest Berkeley home in under a half-hour Tuesday.

A 911 caller reported a burning house in the 1300 block of Haskell Street just before 2 p.m., said Berkeley Fire Department spokeswoman Dafina Dailey.

When firefighters arrived they found flames and smoke coming through the house’s roof, Dailey said. They got it under control by 2:25 p.m. with no injuries to anyone.

“The structure was vacant due to construction,” Dailey said. “The possible cause of the fire might be due to construction work on the roof.”

There was no estimate of the property damages.

The precise source of ignition was not known Wednesday but the fire was still under investigation.

The state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) maintains strict regulations for fire safety during construction, since so many of the materials used or generated can be flammable.

For example, CAL FIRE mandates that combustible debris like cardboard, lumber and packing material “shall not be accumulated within buildings” but removed daily, oily rags must be stored in specific containers and there is no smoking allowed “inside or on the roof of new buildings under construction.” With a few exceptions anything that can combust must be kept at least 20 feet from buildings under construction.

Any so-called “hot work” — cutting, welding, soldering, thermal spraying, torch-applied roofing or anything involving fire or explosions — is subject to pre- and post-site inspection and must have “fire watch” personnel on hand, according to CAL FIRE’s regulations.

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Alex N. Gecan joined Berkeleyside in 2023 as a senior reporter covering public safety. He has covered criminal justice, courts and breaking and local news for The Middletown Press, Stamford Advocate and...