South Berkeley fire displaces residents, temporarily closes coffee shop

Kavya Narendra Babu/Staff

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On Aug. 4, residents of a low-income senior housing complex in South Berkeley were displaced after a fire began in the early afternoon, as previously reported by Berkeleyside. 

According to Berkeley Fire Department Assistant Chief Keith May in an email, the fire began with a resident’s discarded cigarette ashes in a housing unit at 1501 Blake St. 

“The fire was started when the resident discarded cigarette ashes in a paper bag next to the couch and left the room,” May said in an email. 

The low-income senior housing complex that was affected is called Sacramento Senior Homes and is run by Satellite Affordable Housing Associates, or SAHA, an organization that provides affordable homes and services to “empower people and strengthen neighborhoods,” according to SAHA’s website. 

Firefighters evacuated most of the building’s residents during the time of the fire, and 11 units on the second floor were damaged, according to Berkeleyside. Firefighters from BFD were able to contain the fire to the second floor.

The residents of the 11 damaged units were asked to stay elsewhere Sunday night, as the damage to their homes prevented them from reentering the building immediately, according to Berkeleyside. The majority of residents from the damaged units were allowed to return to their homes the next day. 

According to May, the only residents who were displaced were the occupants of the unit where the fire was started. 

The estimated damage to the building is approximately $15,000, according to May.

Additionally, according to Berkeleyside, water damage from the fire on the second floor also temporarily closed Mo’Joe Cafe, a coffee shop located underneath the housing complex at 2517 Sacramento St

The coffee shop could reopen this week, depending on the extent of water damage and repair work, according to Berkeleyside.

Contact Sydney Hilbush at [email protected].