Fire Department Log

Tuesday June 08, 2004

Persistent Chef Keeps Cookin’ as Stove Burns 

Two engine companies raced to a large apartment building at 1945 Berkeley Way early Saturday evening, summoned by an alarm triggered by smoke detectors and greeted by a smoke-filled hallway. 

Conducting a door-to-door search, the firefighters discovered a woman cooking away at a burning electrical stove. Asked to leave, she struggled to keep at her cooking, even with the stove surface ablaze. 

One incandescent burner had fallen through the surface and scorched its way into the range’s interior, but that hadn’t deterred the iron chef, who merely moved her cooking to another burner—stopping only when police hauled her out of the apartment.  

Firefighters discovered that the cook had plucked the batteries from her smoke detectors, with the result that the alarm was raised only after the fumes had oozed out from behind her closed door and set off a hallway detector. 

Deputy Fire Chief David Orth said damage to the stove was estimated at $500, with smoke damage to the apartment running several times more. 


Extension Cord Sparks Bedroom Blaze  

Firefighters were summoned to a home at 2511 Mathews St. shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday, where they found a bedroom engulfed in flames. Extinguishing the blaze within a matter of minutes, they discovered that the cause was damaged extension cord—a frequent cause of domestic fires, said Deputy Chief Orth. 

There were no injuries, and total damage was estimated at $30,000. 

Reignited Cigarette-Spawned Blaze Claims Shed 

A young man inadvertently sparked a blaze when he failed to stub out a cigarette as he worked in a shed behind his parents’ home at 2705 Hillegass Ave. Sunday evening. A small fired ensued, which he then extinguished—or so he thought. 

Then, by 3:20 a.m. Monday, smoldering coals triggered a second blaze. When the Berkeley Fire Department arrived, the shed was fully ablaze. 

By the time the blaze was finally and fully out, the shed was toast and much of an adjoining fence was history. Firefighters estimated the structural damage at $5,000, with lost contents valued at $10,000.  


Photographer Burned in Ice Cream Deception 

When Daily Planet photographer Jakob Schiller shot the picture of a firefighter hosing down an imaginary blaze during a wildfire training exercise for the paper’s June 1 edition, the blaze battler identified himself as “Captain Gary Cates.” 

But Gary Cates he was not—that’s the name of Berkeley’s former fire chief. A little sleuthing disclosed that the gentleman with the hose was none other than Capt. Rich Waters, whom “Deep Hydrant” tells us had offered up the pseudonym to circumvent a firehouse custom which calls for folks identified in press pictures to buy ice cream for the whole station crew. 

And while you’re buying, Cap’n, we suggest you pay for double scoops—and bring a cone by for our chagrined Schiller while you’re at it!