Fire Department Log

By Richard brenneman
Tuesday April 04, 2006

Fires damaged two Berkeley residences Friday night and almost killed a cat, while mudslides threaten to cut off three homes from emergency services, reports Deputy Fire Chief David P. Orth. 


Candle fire 

A thoughtless resident committed one of the BFD’s least favorite sins by leaving a candle burning unattended in a dwelling at 2340 Eighth St. 

Fire engines rushed to the scene after the resident called at 4:22 p.m. to report that the candle had fallen to the floor, where the burning wax ignited the carpet and burned through the floorboards. 

The blaze had self-extinguished by the time emergency workers had arrived, but not before doing an estimated $10,000 in damage to the structure and an additional $15,000 in harm to the contents. 

Never, ever, leave candles burning unattended, warns Orth. 


Eight lives left 

After an upstairs neighbor saw smoke pouring from the apartment below, firefighters rushed to 1521 Francisco St. 

Receiving no answer to their knocks, firefighters forced their way in to find that the resident had left a cardboard box partially atop a floor heater, resulting in the blaze. 

In the course of fighting the flames, firefighters discovered a cat collapsed in the apartment’s rear bedroom. A quick application of resuscitation skills brought the critter back from the brink. 

Orth estimated the damage to the structure at $20,000. 


Slide alert 

Rain-saturated soil has sparked a series of mudslides along Panoramic Way that threaten to isolate at least three homes at the upper reach of the roadway, Orth said Monday. 

“I’m sending out an e-mail to the Oakland and East Bay Regional Park District fire departments warning that we may lose our access,” Orth said. 

While the homes are located within Oakland city limits, the only regular road leading into them is Panoramic Way from Berkeley. While fire trails offer access in dry weather, Orth said he suspects that the main trail leading into the uppermost home may be impassible. 

An acacia tree along the roadway was also felled by the storm, but neighbors cleared enough of the debris to open one of the two lanes to traffic.d