Downtown Berkeley fire damages UC Theatre poster collection

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After a two-alarm fire broke out at a multi-story structure near the intersection of University and Shattuck avenues on Saturday, The UC Theatre fears the company lost a collection of photos and about 60 concert posters at their storefront.

The fire started in an open courtyard behind the building at 2111 and 2113 University Ave., according to Berkeley Fire Department interim Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken. The cause of the fire remains unknown, though McCracken said there are multiple possibilities.

“We had a fire outside (on the deck) of a big building also last week, in the south campus area,” McCracken said, referencing a fire that occurred at 2631 Durant Ave. on Friday. “It could be that homeless people tend to use (vacant buildings) for shelter. It’s hard to say.”

The UC Theatre which is operated by the Berkeley Music Groupkept some of its tables and chairs, as well as a collection of photos and poster art, at the storefront. Since the property damage mostly comes from water and smoke, the tables and chairs will only require cleaning, according to Berkeley Music Group President David Mayeri.

Their major poster collection, however, may have been damaged during the fire response, Mayeri said, though the scope of the damage is still unclear. The UC Theatre had been collecting old photos and posters from the last 40 years of the Berkeley music scene, with the intention of framing some of the pieces for the main theater space.

“If people have things that they would like to share with us, that would be fantastic,” Mayeri said. “We are also looking for (a new) storage area for our tables and chairs.”

The fire also affected the vacant Krishna Copy Center, which is included in the same building as The UC Theatre’s storefront. The structure — which is a part of the Acheson Commons project — is set to be renovated. McCracken said she didn’t have an exact estimate for the cost of the damages but added that the entire property damage could be worth about $50,000.

“It was a challenging incident because of its appearance,” McCracken said. “It (didn’t) look like there (was a) fire behind the building. Finding access to the courtyard was difficult.”

McCracken said firefighters stayed at the scene Saturday throughout the night and left the area Sunday morning. According to McCracken, one firefighter received a minor injury. In addition, BFD returned control of the nearby Bachenheimer Apartmentswhich were evacuated in response to the fire to the building managers Sunday.

The intersection of Shattuck and University avenues was reopened about 7 p.m. on Saturday, according to McCracken.

“The BFD were just amazing,” Mayeri said. “They responded quickly and made sure no one got (significantly) injured. They did a fantastic job.”

Contact Charlotte Kosche at [email protected].