Fire Department Log

Tuesday June 15, 2004

Burning Ivy Razes the Roof 

A Berkeley man learned a harsh lesson Saturday: It’s a bad idea to try to blowtorch the ivy off your walls. 

Berkeley firefighters were summoned to the residence at 2907 Forest Ave. Saturday after a neighbor spotted white smoke billowing from the attic. 

As they prepared to battle the flames, firefighters plucked a stranded painter from an exterior platform. 

Before the fire was doused, firefighters had to cut a major hole in the roof to contain a blaze that had damaged the att ic and one room beneath, said Deputy Fire Chief David Orth. 

Investigators learned that the painting crew had already finished the interior and was starting on the outside when the owner took a blowtorch to some obstinate paint and to some ivy tightly cli nging to the walls. 

The fire then followed the ivy through a breach in the walls and into the attic. 

“People shouldn’t be using torches to burn away weeds or paint,” said Orth, “especially when we’re already into the fire season.” 

Orth estimated the da mage to the home at $50,000. 


Students Graduate Fire Department Program  

The Berkeley Fire Department held graduation ceremonies of its own last week, honoring the 23 high school-aged youths who attended the department’s Third Annual Youth Academy. 

Students spent 14 Saturdays with engine crews, learning the day-to-day routines of Berkeley firefighters and receiving introductory training in deploying hoses and the art of spraying water and earning their CPR certifications. 

“They get to do ride-alongs,” too, said Orth, “but the highlight of the class is when they get to rappel off our training tower.” 

The course is so popular that one graduate had attended both previous sessions and another graduate had attended last year’s program. 

“It’s a great program,” said Orth. “We hope to expand it next year.”