Friday the 13th wasn’t entirely unlucky for the occupants of a Berkeley apartment building, thanks to a resident’s carbon monoxide detector.
Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said that when a resident of a building in the 2700 block of Durant Street first heard the sound of his apartment’s alarm, “he thought the battery had gone dead.”
But with a fresh battery inserted, the alarm alerted again, so the building manager was summoned and firefighters were called.
On arrival the engine company tried out their new CO detector, and found levels of 25 parts per million on the first and second floors, levels that just reached the threshold for donning air tanks.
But the numbers soared even higher when they descended into the basement boiler room, where a reading of 250 parts per million prompted immediate evacuation of the building and the use of fans to clear out the colorless, odorless and lethal gas.
After shutting down the basement furnace and boiler, which had been serviced two or three days earlier, firefighters reignited the burners, and readings soared to 941 ppm.
“This is a clear example of why carbon monoxide detectors should be in every residence,” said the deputy chief.
The potentially lethal leak was traced to a pipe joint and repairs were ordered.
Residents of a home in the 1500 block of Acton Street learned the need for another form of fire safety on Valentine’s Day when their nice, festive fire set the chimney ablaze.
After receiving the call at precisely 5 p.m., firefighters arrived to see smoke pouring from the chimney and along the side of the house.
The burning logs in the fireplace had ignited creosote and soot built up in the chimney, but quick action spared the residence any significant damage.
“If you use your fireplace, make sure you have the chimney cleaned every year,” said the deputy chief.
A watched pot may never boil, but unwatched, it could set the stove on fire.
Called to the Tropical Paradise Restaurant at 2021 University Ave. Sunday at 4:40 p.m. by a caller reporting a structural fire, the arriving engine company found the doors locked but spotted smoke inside.
Forcing entry, they headed to the kitchen where they found a stovetop blaze, a grease fire ignited after restaurant workers left the building with a burner ablaze.
Damage from the fire and from the forced entry was estimated at about $5,000.
Deputy Chief Dong said the incident was referred to the city’s Environmental Health office, which must investigate any fire in a restaurant.