Firefighters withdrew from their round-the-clock watch outside the Drayage warehouse Tuesday evening, one day after being fired upon from the warehouse by a pellet gun.
The complex at Third and Addison streets is the scene of a dispute between about two dozen residents, many of which are artisans, who want to remain and city officials who have ordered them to vacate by April 15.
On April 1, Deputy Fire Chief David Orth dispatched the fire company to watch over the West Berkeley live/work complex, which he had declared “an extreme fire hazard.”
“The owner of the building didn’t want the fire company there, and now for the safety impact on my people, I don’t want them their either,” Orth said.
No one was injured from the single shot fired, but Orth said the incident was enough to pull out the fire company. “A pellet can break the skin, it can destroy an eye and it can be deadly,” he said.
Orth added that police believed they knew which resident fired the shot, but did not have enough evidence to make an arrest.
Instead of the fire company, Orth has ordered the building owner, Lawrence White, to post two security guards with fire suppression training inside the Drayage. Orth said the new measure would cost White less than the fire company, for which the city had been billing him more than $5,000 a day.
White called the pellet gun incident “unfortunate” and said he didn’t know how much money he would save by the fire company’s departure.
The shooting didn’t reflect the attitude of most Drayage residents, said Maresa Danielsen, who nevertheless said she didn’t understand why they were stationed outside her home.
“Having the truck just across the street was unnecessary considering the fire station is just five or six blocks away,” she said. “They seemed bored too.”
Danielsen said tenants were continuing to work with the Northern California Land Trust to possibly buy the warehouse and with politicians to give them more time to get the building up to code. The issue is expected to be debated at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.›