Seagull Starts House Fire in Berkeley

By Sasha Lekach (BCN)
Tuesday October 02, 2012 - 12:47:00 PM

A seagull is being blamed for causing a high-voltage power line to fall in a Berkeley neighborhood this morning, sparking a fire that spread to a home, a Berkeley fire official said.  

The fire was reported at 8:14 a.m. in the 1100 block of Delaware Street, and was controlled around 9 a.m., Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said. 

The blaze was sparked when a seagull somehow caused the 12,000-volt electrical line to fall onto a grassy area in front of the home, Dong said. 

The grass caught fire, and flames spread to the residence.  

The street was shut down, and nearby buildings were evacuated until PG&E secured the downed line in the street, Dong said. 

Residents have since been allowed to return home, Dong said. 

PG&E spokeswoman Tamar Sarkissian said around 10 a.m. that the 1100 block of Delaware Street was still closed as repair crews worked to restore service to two customers who lost power.  

The street, however, is secure and considered safe, Sarkissian said. 

She said that when the line fell, lights may have flickered for about 4,000 customers, but there was no major outage. 

The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in property damage, Dong said. 

The sole occupant of the home that burned may be able to return to the residence later today, depending on whether the home's electrical system is deemed safe, Dong said. 

No injuries to humans were reported, but the seagull died, Dong said. 

As of 9:45 a.m., fire crews remained at the scene mopping up.