West Berkeley house fire displaces resident, results in $250K structural damage

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Zahira Chaudhry/Staff

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A Berkeley house fire on the 1700 block of Eighth Street resulted in approximately $250,000 worth of structural damage and the displacement of 71-year-old homeowner Dennis Eimoto.

Berkeley Fire Department, or BFD, responded to the West Berkeley fire after the first call about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, and firefighters obtained control over the fire about 3 a.m. No people were injured in the fire, but Eimoto, who was unable to be reached for comment, lost his dog to the fire’s smoke.

“If (the victims) have no relatives, the Red Cross helps them find a place for a few nights,” said BFD spokesperson, Keith May.

May said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but BFD believes that the fire started at the front of Eimoto’s house.

Eimoto smelled smoke after he woke up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, according to May. Eimoto escaped into the backyard, where he remained until BFD arrived on scene to rescue him.

May added that Eimoto was unable to escape the backyard until firefighters arrived because of the collection of items cluttering his yard.

One of BFD’s responders, Battalion Chief Brian Harryman, reported that items inside and around the house caused firefighters to “negotiate getting around” when entering the house, according to May.

Eimoto’s house was referred to as a “balloon construction” home by May, which he explained as a type of construction seen in older houses that allows fire to spread quickly throughout the structure due to the lack of breaks in the wall’s wooden studs. Newer homes are built with breaks between the wall’s wooden studs in order to prevent the rapid spread of fire.

Contact Adrianna Buenviaje at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @adriannaDC.