Firefighters rushed to the Jack in the Box at 2197 San Pablo Ave. Tuesday night, March 24, summoned by a 911 call reporting that the building was ablaze.
But instead of finding the structure fully involved—firefighter lingo for an all-consuming inferno—they found the last remnants of dying flames rising feebly from the rooftop.
Still, the cause was sinister enough. Someone had hurled a Molotov cocktail in an apparent attempt to burn down the eatery, said Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong.
“We found evidence of a glass beer bottle with a wick in it,” he said.
Firefighters located the restaurant manager, who accompanied them inside the building, where they found no evidence that the flames had penetrated the roof.
“There was very little damage,” said the deputy chief. “But because a restaurant was involved, we notified the city’s environmental health department,” which will conduct a follow-up inspection.
The building sustained only minimal damage from the flames, he said.
Earlier Tuesday—2 a.m. to be precise—firefighters were called to westbound Interstate 80 between Gilman Street and University Avenue after a non-injury collision between a tractor-trailer rig and a passenger car spilled diesel fuel onto the roadway.
The spill of about 100 gallons forced closure of all westbound lanes while Berkeley firefighters contained the spill and crews from CalTrans and the California Highway Patrol handled the actual cleanup.
“We determined there had been no spread to the
waters of Aquatic Park or the western frontage road,” said Deputy Chief Dong.
It was a Berkeley firefighter who reported the week’s other significant incident, smelling smoke on the way back to the station Monday afternoon, March 23, after rescuing a hapless Berkeley resident who’d been stuck in an elevator in the 2400 block of Waring Street.
“They drove around the block looking for the source, and when they got to the corner of Dwight Way and Piedmont Avenue, they saw smoke coming from the window of an apartment building,” said Deputy Chief Dong.
After calling for more firefighters, the crew entered the building to find heavy flames in the bedroom of one apartment, with the flames spreading to the unit above.
By the time they had controlled the blaze, the flames had caused about $20,000 in damages to the building and another $5,000 in losses to the contents.
“Two tenants found lodging with family or friends,” said the deputy chief.
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. “It wasn’t easy to pin down right away, because there were so many heat sources,” he said.
Berkeley firefighters will be lending a hand to their colleagues in Oakland, Friday, March 27, helping to cover the city to the south while Oakland firefighters join with their colleagues in blue at services for the four police officers slain by a wanted felon.
“We’re working with other agencies and the Oakland Fire Department to provide coverage of the city.
The service begins at 11 a.m. in Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, with the doors opening two hours earlier.
The event will draw officers from across the country, some attending a private view Thursday evening open only to family members and fellow officers.
More information on the event is posted at the Oakland Police Officers’ Association website, www.opoa.org.