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Investigation into Massive Berkeley (CA) Fire Delayed

Vanessa Arredondo

San Francisco Chronicle

(TNS)

Berkeley firefighters were still dousing flames Monday at a 7-story building still under construction that caught fire Saturday evening.

The active remnants of the six-alarm fire — which prompted evacuations after it spread to nearby buildings — prevented fire officials from accessing the building in order to begin an investigation into its cause.

The Berkeley Fire Department declined to say Monday whether the incident was being investigated as an arson.

Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Keith May said the fire was “under control” Monday, and was not expected to spread farther.

The fire started after 5 p.m. Saturday at the construction site at 2067 University Ave. Flames jumped to the 3-story apartment complex next to the site, which sustained heavy water damage but minimal fire damage, officials said.

Firefighters continued working Monday to extinguish hot spots that they had not been able to reach because of construction obstacles. The height of the structure also kept crews from extinguishing the fire from above, May said.

“There are so many factors to say whether this is typical or not, but I will say it is different to have it go on for this long,” May said.

Fire officials are planning to remove some “dangerous parts” of the building Tuesday morning, May said. That will require several nearby buildings to be evacuated.

Fire crews from Albany, El Cerrito, Alameda, Piedmont, Hayward and Oakland assisted in battling the blaze.

At least 10 other fires at under-construction housing complexes in the East Bay have been recorded since 2012. Although the cause of some of these fires remains unknown, authorities have determined that a portion were caused by unidentified arsonists spurred by trends toward gentrification and spiking housing costs.

Vanessa Arredondo is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @v_anana

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Six-Alarm Fire at Berkeley (CA) Building Under Construction