Fire Department Log

By Richard Brenneman
Thursday July 30, 2009 - 11:06:00 AM

Shattuck Avenue fire 

The Berkeley Fire Department responded to a two-alarm fire at the site of an abandoned used car sales lot on Shattuck Avenue and Derby Street Wednesday afternoon and were able to extinguish it within 30 minutes 

Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said that the fire had threatened an adjacent apartment building but that nobody had been injured. Six car ports and a single-story building on the former car lot—located next to the UC Storage building—burned down, sustaining damages of $25,000, Dong said. 

The site has long been occupied by homeless people, Dong said. He said that investigators were trying to determine the cause of the fire. 

Berkeley police closed down Shattuck Avenue between Carleton and Ward streets and rerouted buses as firefighters battled the flames. Dong said no firefighters had been injured. 


Tubman Terrace fire 

Firefighters evacuated about 60 tenants from Harriet Tubman Terrace Apartments when a fire broke out in a second-floor unit July 17. 

Deputy Chief Dong said Berkeley firefighters immediately issued a second alarm after arriving at the Adeline Street facility because the building houses elderly and disabled residents who might have had difficulty evacuating. 

The source of the flames turned out to be kitchen cabinets set ablaze after a pot of cooking oil, left unattended on a stove, boiled over and ignited. 

“No firefighters were injured, but two residents were taken to a local emergency room for treatment of shortness of breath,” said the deputy chief. 

The fire caused about $6,000 in damage to the apartment, said Dong. 


HazMat calls 

It’s been a hectic week for the Berkeley Fire Department’s hazardous materials team, starting with a morning call on July 22. 

“The HazMat team had just finished training when they got a real-life call,” said the deputy chief. 

A caller reported that three buckets containing three different unknown chemicals had been left near the railroad tracks at Channing Way. 

Arriving at the scene still clad in their protective suits, firefighters were able to determine that the containers hadn’t spilled, nor were they emitting any noxious vapors. 

“The team determined that they were chemicals used for fertilizing marijuana,” said Deputy Chief Dong. 

The compounds were turned over to the city Public Works Department’s toxic materials team for disposal. 

The next call came three days later in the form of a fire report in a second-floor apartment in the 2400 block of Dana Street. 

Arriving moments after the 3:47 a.m. call, firefighters found a mattress, coffee table and carpeting burning inside a second floor unit. 

The source seemed to be an assortment of chemicals and powders. 

“HazMat identified the chemicals as consistent with those used in the manufacture of methamphetamine,” said Deputy Chief Dong. 

Meth labs are notoriously volatile, and after the fire was out, Berkeley’s Bravest turned the scene over to Berkeley’s Finest for investigation of a probable felony. 

The final incident was still underway as the Daily Planet neared deadline Wednesday, July 30. See “Chemical Spill Forces REI Store Evacuation,” Page One.