Berkeley fire officials are investigating two suspicious fires that broke out within 15 minutes of one another this morning on Cragmont Avenue.
An arsonist may have set the two fires, said Avery Webb, a battalion chief in the Berkeley Fire Department.
“We had a second fire so close in time to the first fire, in such close proximity that it raises the concern that someone set the fires,” said Webb. “It raises the idea that someone traveling along the street may have set the fires.”
The fire department got a call of a vehicle and structure fire in the 500 block of Cragmont Avenue at 12:43 am, said Webb. Firefighters responded and found a 1994 Mercedes station wagon engulfed in flames. It was parked next to the garage and the flames scorched the garage door. The family living in the house had exited, he said.
As a ladder truck was responding to the fire around 1:00 am, firefighters noticed another fire in the 400 block of Cragmont Avenue, said Webb. A pile of cardboard and paper stacked against a house was on fire, and flames were shooting 12 feet into the air. The flames had started to scorch the house near the front door. Ladder trucks don’t carry water, so firefighters used fire extinguishers and a garden hose to douse the flames, he said.
The family inside the house was unaware of the fire.
The first fire caused about $15,000 to $22,000 in damages, and the second fire caused about $2,000 in damages.
The Berkeley Fire Department and Berkeley police are investigating the blazes.