Piedmont firefighters halt house fire on Blair, saving two homes

City of Piedmont

At 11:10 p.m. on April 9, dispatchers received multiple calls reporting a house on fire at 660 Blair Avenue. Upon arrival, Piedmont firefighters found fire coming out of windows, which had caused the house next door to smoke and start burning. The resident of neighboring house was able to get out unharmed but did not know the status of their neighbors.

Firefighters immediately went to work under direction of Incident Commander Lieutenant Zach Heliker. Through intense heat, a crew searched for occupants and aggressively attacked the fire. Fortunately, the thorough search revealed the house was unoccupied.

While one crew was fighting the fire inside, another was stationed between the structures to protect the second house and cool the primary fire, a complex operation requiring careful coordination for the safety of the firefighters.

The complexity and size of the fire necessitated mutual aid from neighboring agencies. With all of Piedmont’s on-duty staff deployed to the scene, an engine from the Berkeley Fire Department came to Piedmont to handle other emergency calls throughout the night, while the Oakland Fire Department provided support on site.

The team spent hours cutting through stucco, wood, lathe, and plaster to fully extinguish the fire.  As is common in old houses, flames and heat had spread across the structure through gaps and chases between walls.  

“Piedmont’s firefighters are always ready to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our community,” said Fire Chief Dave Brannigan. “This fire was intense and spread quickly. We train daily for situations like this, and it’s a testament to that work that this challenging operation went off without a hitch. I’m grateful we saved both structures and no one was injured.”

Brannigan added “There are simple things everyone should do to reduce the risk of a fire at home. Ensure your smoke detectors are installed and working, unplug any non-essential electronics and appliances when not in use, and make sure your neighbors are looking out for each other when you’re away.”

Any Piedmont resident who needs help with fire safety in the home can request it from the Fire Department by calling 510-420-3030 or emailing FireInfo@piedmont.ca.gov.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. Officials have no comment on a possible cause as the investigation is ongoing.

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