Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Tuesday May 16, 2006

Another arson 

A weekend fire brought the city’s total of suspected arsons last week to five, reports Deputy Fire Chief David P. Orth. The latest suspicious fire was reported at 10:50 p.m. Saturday at 1910 Sacramento St. 

The blaze caused an estimated $10,000 in property damage to a storage area at the site and an additional $3,500 in damage to its contents, said Orth. 

“While it’s outside the area of the other four fires, it occurred in the same time frame and was started in a similar manner,” Orth said. 

Each of the other blazes was set within a few blocks of the Ashby BART station. 

Berkeley Police spokesperson Ed Galvan issued a crime alert Friday, urging area residents to keep doors and windows locked, including those leading to crawl spaces and storage sheds. 

He also called on residents to remove all flammable items from their property, including yard waste, and to call police at 981-5900 to report any suspicious activity. 


Kitchen fire 

A non-arson blaze did $100,000 in structural damage and $25,000 to the contents of an apartment at 1649 Julie St. Saturday morning. 

The fire, first reported at 12:42 a.m., began in the kitchen of a downstairs apartment, Orth said. The apartment’s residents, a mother and her baby, were present when the fire broke out, and were alerted to the danger by a smoke detector, Orth said. 

The fire was raised to two alarms because of the potential danger to the other occupants of the building, he said. 



When firefighters and paramedics rolled to 1820 Sacramento St. early at 3:35 a.m. Saturday, it wasn’t to fight a fire. 

“I thought it was an earthquake,” said Laurie Zabala, who was asleep in the bedroom over the garage when she was rudely awakened. “We woke up, and all we could hear was someone say, ‘Hello? Hello?’ 

“A neighbor told us they had called police because someone had hit our garage and there was a car inside.” 

The vehicle, a Lexus SUV, “was kind of tilted, but there wasn’t anyone there.” 

Indeed, the driver had hit and run. 

Zabala pointed out that there wasn’t the slightest trace of a skid mark to indicate the driver had slowed before slamming into her stucco-covered bungalow. 

“The damage was so severe to the load-bearing wall that the occupants were evacuated and the house was yellow-tagged,” Orth said. 

The Lexus demolished the corner post upholding the second story, and the Zabalas won’t even be allowed back upstairs until it’s replaced, Orth said.