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Large fire at downtown Berkeley condos under construction still active

San Francisco Chronicle logo San Francisco Chronicle 6 days ago By Vanessa Arredondo and Sarah Ravani

A 7-story building under construction in downtown Berkeley continued to burn Sunday, nearly 24 hours after the six-alarm blaze was sparked and spread to an apartment building, forcing residents in the complex and nearby businesses to evacuate.

No injuries were reported in the fire that ignited at the residential-over-commercial building at 2067 University Ave.

Berkeley Councilman Rigel Robinson tweeted Sunday morning that the Red Cross was supporting families evacuated from the apartments.

“Berkeley hasn’t seen a fire like this since 2011” on Telegraph Avenue, he wrote.

Officials had not determined a cause of the blaze, which still smoldered Sunday afternoon.

University Avenue and Berkeley Way were closed between Milvia Street and Shattuck Avenue, and were expected to be blocked through Sunday night.

The three-story apartment building sustained heavy water damage, and residents could not return Sunday, said Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Keith May.

Nearby businesses, including a hotel two lots away, were evacuated as a precaution, May said. The total number of people evacuated was not available.

Obstacles at the construction site made it difficult for firefighters to enter the burning building, and the height of the structure kept crews from extinguishing the fire from above, May said.

Building inspectors assessed adjacent structures. Officials said neither of the two buildings were yet safe for the public to access.

Firefighters responded after a 911 call was received at 5:39 p.m. Saturday, May said, and the efforts prevented significant fire damage to the apartment building.

“We stopped that pretty quickly,” said Dave Brannigan, a spokesman for the Berkeley Fire Department.

By 9:30 p.m. Saturday, the fire was contained to the building where it started, but Brannigan said he expected “a long night.”

Fire crews from Albany, El Cerrito, Alameda, Piedmont, Hayward and Oakland assisted.

Vanessa Arredondo and Sarah Ravani are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. Email: vanessa.arredondo@sfchronicle.com, sravani@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @SarRavani, @v_anana

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