A two-alarm fire badly damaged the upper floors of a four-story Berkeley hills home on Keith Avenue Wednesday, sending smoke into the air that was visible in neighboring cities.
No injuries to occupants or firefighters were sustained in the fire at 1177 Keith, which was reported at 11:46 a.m. and declared under control around 2 p.m., according to acting Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb.
The "probable cause" for the fire was "a heater placed too close to a mattress in a top-floor bedroom," Webb said.
Berkeley Fire Marshall John Fitch estimated the damage at around $800,000, according to Webb.
Webb said none of family members of the family who live in the brown-shingle structure were home at the time and that the fire was noticed by a neighbor.
About 30 firefighters, along with five engines and two ladder trucks, battled the fire, and several Berkeley police officers helped seal off the narrow winding street to through traffic.
The fire heavily damaged the home's upper two floors, Webb said. The home, which has three stories above a basement level, also suffered water damage, he said.
The home is located on a wooded steep hillside with much undergrowth, which immediately prompted fears of a possible spread of the flames, Webb said, alluding to the devastating East Bay hills fire of 1991. But firefighters quickly surveyed the perimeter of the home and contained the blaze to the building, he said.
Helicopter footage of the dramatic blaze can be seen on the NBC Bay Area website.