BERKELEY -- Two police officers rescued a woman in a wheelchair from a burning home in the city's Elmwood neighborhood early Wednesday during a three-alarm fire that caused "hundreds of thousands of dollars" worth of damage, Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said.
No injuries were reported in the fire at 2924 Benvenue Ave., which was reported at 12:19 a.m. The blaze took all the city's firefighters and some off-duty personnel to extinguish and prevent flames from spreading to other homes, Dong said. The fire was under control by 2:30 a.m.
"Berkeley police reported to us that two officers went in and rescued a woman in a wheelchair and I'm giving them all the credit," Dong said. "They deserve some kudos on this one."
Dong said after the officers got all five occupants out of the duplex, including the woman in the wheelchair, the fire department arrived to find "heavy fire and smoke coming from the rear of the building."
As crews began to battle the fire they had to retreat because the roof and floors partially collapsed, he said. Firefighters were forced to pour water on the fire from the outside and play defense by making sure surrounding houses didn't go up in flames, Dong said.
"There were spaces we couldn't get to with the water because of the collapse, and that took us longer to get to the seat of the fire," Dong said.
Dong said investigators are digging through the rubble to try and determine a cause. He said while Berkeley firefighters were on the scene, Albany and Alameda County firefighters were on alert in case another blaze started in the city.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.