BERKELEY -- A massive five-alarm fire destroyed at least three buildings Saturday night in West Berkeley, including an artisan furniture store and adjacent storage warehouses, officials said.
Burned in the blaze near the Eastshore Highway were Joshua Tree Furniture, a woodworking shop and furniture store, and rear storage facilities for Import Tile and The Wooden Duck. No injuries were reported in the fire.
The blaze began burning about 7:50 p.m. in the 1800 block of Second Street and was knocked down about 1 a.m., Berkeley fire Chief Gil Dong said. Firefighters were able to gradually reduce the size of the blaze, but remained on scene overnight to put out hot spots.
The fire, located between the exits of University Avenue and Gilman Street, caused major traffic delays on the freeway in both directions and could be seen from San Francisco and the East Bay. The incident also left about 1,500 residents without power Saturday evening after PG&E shut down lines in the area to keep falling live wires from hurting the firefighters.
Though the cause of the fire remains under investigation, one building appeared to be the most heavily impacted, said Dong. The roof of that business, which the fire chief did not identify, collapsed while crews were fighting the flames.
While The Wooden Duck and Import Tile lost their warehouses in the blaze, their actual storefronts were spared, the owners said. Joshua Tree Furniture was a complete loss in the blaze.
All three privately-owned businesses employ a small number of employees, and are heavily focused on community partnerships and doing business locally, their websites say. The owners of The Wooden Duck, which began furnishing items out of reclaimed wood in 1995, expressed gratitude to firefighters for working quickly to save what they could of the artisan shops.
"We lost a lot tonight. Hopefully we can recover from this quickly along with our neighbors," the owners said on the shop's Facebook page. "We are grateful to all of the firefighters for saving our factory and store buildings."