2731 Durant Avenue where a fire on Saturday morning caused significant damage. Photo: Google Maps

The fire that broke out on the roof of 3240 Ellis Street late Sunday night was one of two significant fires tackled by the Berkeley Fire Department this weekend, according to Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong.

Nobody was injured after a fire broke out in the converted attic of the apartment building at 2731 Durant Avenue early on Saturday, although it caused an estimated total of $450,000 worth of damage.

On Saturday July 2 at 5:36 am, the Fire Department received a call about a fire in the 3-story, 13-unit apartment building at 2731 Durant. The call was made by a Berkeley police officer on patrol, who spotted heavy smoke coming from the top of the building, according to Dong.

Occupants of the apartments — who were unaware that a fire had broken out — were evacuated by the BPD, and a total of five engines, two trucks, two paramedic untis and two fire chiefs attended the scene.

Deputy Chief Dong said the fire was likely accidental and caused by discarded smoking materials left in the attic of the building. The manager of the building found alternative accommodation for the occupants, according to Dong, and the fire was under control by 6:26 am.

The roof of 3240 Ellis Street before a fire Sunday partially destroyed it. Photo: Google Maps

Meanwhile, Dong said the likely cause of the fire which broke out on the roof of 3240 Ellis Street at around 11:00 pm Sunday night was fireworks.

“Given the numerous reports of fireworks in the area and also the fact that the fire started on the rooftop, it was likely caused by fireworks,” he said.

It took the fire department less than an hour to put out the fire which occurred in a 2-story vacant apartment building that was not well maintained. The roof partially collapsed as a result of the fire. Aerial photos of the roof of the building before the fire show it to be in a state of disrepair with exposed rafters.

The fire crews on the scene last night were pulled out of the interior of the building after it became clear the integrity of the building was at risk. Most of the roof fire was dealt with by aerial ladders after the fire officers had to cut through a gate to gain access to the property, said Dong.

Radiant heat impinged on two adjacent buildings and neighbors were evacuated with the help of the BPD. They were able to go back into their homes by 12:30 pm.

Tracey Taylor

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...

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  1. The guy who built and owned this when I lived there in 1992 kept all of our security deposits and there was no way to serve him papers for small claims because he lived behind a gate on the Peninsula. His name was John Scott. One kid I knew actually hired proper lawyers and won $10,000 so that was good retribution for all of us, even if he was the only one who won.

  2. the owner of that building is a greedy motha. he only rents it to international students at ELS & Caplan.two roommates per room, $850 each!!! he has another property  at durant & college!!

  3. One wouldn’t know if fireworks were illegal given what was going on in the flats last night. 

  4. And on Durant the ‘converted” attic  in a 13 unit building that hasn’t had a building permit since before 1992.
    Makes you wonder about the safety of many Berkeley buildings.

  5. I think most would agree it is past time for the Ephesian church to properly maintain, demolish, or sell the building.  Neighbors lives and properties were put at unecessary risk.  Grafitti and litter is bad enough, but this could have been tragic.