Firefighters are crediting a smoke alarm with alerting residents to an early morning fire that burned this morning at an artist's live and work space in West Berkeley.
The blaze was reported at 3:25 a.m. in the 800 block of Page Street, at a building that contains residential and studio space, Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Donna McCracken said.
She described the structure as a "rambling, single-story property that has been tacked onto over the years."
The owner rents out the original cottage portion of the property and lives in a rear area, she said.
McCracken said it appears the fire started on the building's exterior and spread into the front rental cottage.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 15 minutes, she said. The cottage sustained moderate damage, she said.
There were two people in the cottage and two others in the rear live and work space when the fire started. All four escaped safely, thanks to the smoke alarm, she said.
"It's such a small cottage they could have been quickly overcome by smoke," McCracken said.
Two firefighters were nipped by a frazzled Chihuaha named "Chuco," who "kind of wigged out" as they tried to help him, McCracken said.
The dog's owner informed firefighters that Chuco's vaccinations were up to date, and the firefighters were not seriously injured.
The studio space contains a number of sculptures and other pieces of art, but no artwork was damaged, she said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.