February 24, 2024
Cause unknown after 2-alarm fire at Berkeley warehouse

Berkeley Fire

Emilie Raguso

The building is believed to have been vacant, its owner unknown, which has posed challenges in the investigation, BFD said Tuesday.

Cause unknown after 2-alarm fire at Berkeley warehouse
A warehouse fire tied up the Berkeley Fire Department for hours overnight Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. Berkeley Fire Fighters Association

A commercial warehouse caught fire in Berkeley overnight Saturday and firefighters are still trying to determine what may have caused it.

The building is believed to have been vacant, its owner unknown, which has posed challenges in the early stages of the investigation, the Berkeley Fire Department said this week.

Someone initially called 911 to report smoke in the area of a commercial warehouse on Eastshore Highway at 2 a.m. Saturday, BFD said.

Crews arrived “and found black smoke coming from a large warehouse” on Second Street near Gilman Street, said Deputy Fire Chief Keith May.

“Crews found access through a locked gate and alley and noted that the warehouse did not have an address posted on the building. They also noted heavy black smoke and fire coming from the building,” May said.

Firefighters who entered the building “encountered heavy contents and heavy fire,” which “had vented itself through the roof.”

The crew searched the building “due to known unhoused [residents] in the area.”

Firefighters, who were unable to knock down the blaze after 20 minutes, called for a second-alarm response to bring more resources to the scene.

WATCH: Huge flames during Saturday’s fire in Berkeley, near Gilman and Eastshore. It happened overnight around 2 a.m. Firefighters were still cleaning up Saturday morning. (You may have seen the Nixle.) We are working to get more details but @BerkeleyProFire shared this video. pic.twitter.com/QhTUEknYzY

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— The Berkeley Scanner (@BerkeleyScanner) January 14, 2024

“After 30 minutes of firefighting and no change in conditions, the decision was made to move to a defensible attack and to pull all firefighters out of the building,” May said.

Authorities shut down Gilman Street during the response to ensure access to nearby fire hydrants.

Firefighters ultimately went back inside the building to put out hot spots once the fire was knocked down, May said.

“There were no injuries to civilians or firefighters,” he said. “The investigation is in the very early stages and no cause has been determined. Property loss is difficult as this building is believed to be vacant and [it is] unknown who owns the building.”


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