Blaze Started Since Saturday
On Saturday, a 7-story residential-over-commercial building in 2067 University Avenue, Berkeley, continued to burn on Sunday afternoon, bringing the blaze active for more than 48 hours since the start of the blazing incident. According to witness accounts, apartment residents and neighboring businesses evacuated forcibly away from the infrastructure ever since the six-alarm fire sparked and spread within the vicinity’s interior. The blaze occurred in downtown Berkeley, and the said building is still under construction before the event. As of late, there were zero casualties reported from the fire.
According to Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Keith May, residents of the burned three-story apartment could not return yet to their respective households. He also reported that the building sustained substantial water damage, making it still risky to go back inside. Furthermore, May mentioned that the fire department also evacuated two hotels from a few blocks away as a safety measure from the fire. Despite all the previously mentioned information stated by May, he could not disclose the exact number of people evacuated from the burning infrastructure.
May noted that the firefighters who responded to alleviate the situation could not make it inside the building with minor problems due to obstacles found at the construction site. Additionally, he said that the infrastructure’s height is what kept the firefighters back from trying to extinguish the fire.
The Fire’s Aftermath
On Sunday morning after the beginning day of the blaze, Berkeley Councilman Rigel Robinson took to his official Twitter account regarding updates on the occurrence. According to Robinson, the affected families residing in the burned-down commercial building got evacuated safely. Additionally, he also mentioned that the Red Cross association provided the victims with food and temporary shelter aids.
Moreover, Robinson wrote in Telegraph Avenue that the fire incident was the city’s second large-scale witnessed blaze, following the tragic fire event in 2011. Meanwhile, public officials have not yet ascertained the cause of the flames, which continues to burn as of Sunday afternoon. Due to the situation, both Berkeley Way and University Avenue streets got closed for innocent civilians’ safety, and the road blockage would remain until Sunday evening.
The city’s officials announced to the public that neither of the two infrastructures is safe for entry. Building inspectors also examined the buildings’ adjacent structures to see if there are still additional damages that they should address to resolve.
May disclosed to the media that on Saturday at 5:39 p.m., the fire department received a 911 call to alert them of a fire occurring somewhere on University Avenue. According to him, firefighters responded to the incident immediately, making their attempts to stop the fire to destroy the apartment building further. Additionally, Berkeley Fire Department spokesman Dave Brannigan confirmed that they could stop the flames from quickly spreading into nearby areas.
Brannigan revealed that their firefighters were able to contain the blaze by 9:30 p.m. Saturday. However, he also admitted that he thought the incident would take them a long night to try and douse out the flames.
According to official reports, Oakland, El Cerrito, Piedmont, Alameda, Hayward, and Alany fire squads helped the Berkeley Fire department extinguish the large-scale fire situation.
Affected Civilians’ Concerns on the Incident
One of the buildings’ owners, David Lau, expressed his fear of what would happen next to the infrastructure and was not ready to talk about the incident that took place. Despite the unfortunate event, Lau still owed his gratitude to the Berkeley firefighters and others who tried their best to prevent the situation from turning into a more horrifying disaster.
As of late, no one is sure when they can return inside the buildings once again. However, many affected civilians remain optimistic about the situation and hope to come back again on Tuesday.