Election Section

Fire Department Log By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Tuesday September 27, 2005



Arsonist strikes again 

The latest in a series of arson-caused fires at King Middle School destroyed an $80,000 construction tractor on Sept. 18, said Deputy Fire Chief David P. Orth. 

In addition to the fire that destroyed the massive piece of John Deere equipment, a second fire did limited damage to the dining commons building currently under construction. 

Orth said the fires were reported at 5:21 p.m. and were extinguished soon afterward. 

The middle school site at 1721 Rose St. has also been the site of a series of arson fires set in portable toilets and another fire that ignited construction debris. 

The latest fire is by far the most costly. 

“Berkeley police and the school district are working on the incidents,” Orth said. “Security has been increased and cameras have been installed to prevent future incidents.” 


Eucalyptus fire 

A Thursday evening fire burned eucalyptus trees and brush along the railroad tracks at the south end of Aquatic Park. 

Two engines quickly controlled the blaze, which was limited to a small area, said Orth. No structures were endangered. 

The fire could have been started by a train, or by one of the homeless people who camp in the area around Bay Street, he said. 


Roof fire 

A fire on the roof of a building at 1533 Prince St. caused $10,000 in structural damage and $5,000 in losses to contents of the dwelling Saturday. 

When firefighters answered the 5:41 p.m. call, they arrived to find tenants fighting the blaze with fire extinguishers and a bucket brigade. 

Deputy Chief Orth said the fire was apparently caused by shingle work during the construction of a rooftop catwalk leading from an upstairs bedroom to a fire escape ladder. 


Too flaming Berkeley 

One display at Sunday’s How Berkeley Can You Be Parade proved a little too hot for the taste of Berkeley police, who called in the BFD for a second opinion. 

Orth said the ride in question was a renovated fire truck sponsored by the Crucible, a workshop for artists who work with flame in Oakland. 

“It had been rigged to shoot a 15- to 20-foot flame” from the truck top mount more traditionally used to blast water, and a second arrangement set off small blasts from the exhaust. 

“The police notified us, and we ordered them to stop because they didn’t have a permit and it was dangerous,” said Orth. 

The truck’s operators complied, and the truck paraded on, though with considerably less sturm und drang than before.