A fire that broke out in an apartment building at 10 p.m. Thursday, may have been the result of six youths playing with firecrackers, according to the Berkeley Fire Department.
Firefighters thought they had the fire at 2534 Piedmont Ave. contained to the garage of the three-story building and several companies were released after 15 minutes. However, firefighters later discovered that the blaze had made its way to the center of the building within the structure’s walls and the released companies were recalled. Firefighters were forced to knock out portions of the walls, floors and ceiling on all three levels to gain access to the fire which was kept ablaze by stucco in portions of walls that were added after the original construction had been competed. Firefighters wrestled the flames well into Friday morning and maintained a fire-watch until 7 a.m.
The youths that may be responsible for starting the fire were seen inside and around the garage, which had a non-operational door, moments before the blaze started. According to a Fire Department report, an empty “handheld fireworks candle” was found across the street from the fire and is a “strong indication” that the youths’ fireworks were the cause of the fire.
The burnt material includes carpeting, a sofa, a chair and a car that was parked in the garage.
The city housing and fire prevention personnel are investigating the possibility that the third floor of the building was illegally constructed.