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Cause of Berkeley hills fire under investigation

Fire investigators Thursday returned to the scene of a three-alarm blaze that badly damaged two homes in the Berkeley hills on Wednesday night, a Berkeley fire official said. 

The fire was reported at 8:32 p.m. in the 1000 block of Miller Avenue, near Grizzly Peak Boulevard. Firefighters arrived to find two homes burning and called for a second-alarm response, Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said.

About 15 nearby homes were evacuated, and the fire went to three alarms at 9:12 p.m., he said. 

The houses that were burning are “nestled in the Berkeley hills” and surrounded by vegetation, Dong said, and there was concern about the blaze spreading.

Firefighting efforts were hampered early on when a power line fell onto an engine that was supplying water to fire crews.

“We had to resort to using another engine; our first engine was put out of commission,” Dong said. 

However, firefighters eventually gained the upper hand on the blaze and had it under control at 10:41 p.m., Dong said.

Four firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion and sprains, including an ankle injury and a knee injury, he said.

There were no reports of injuries to residents, and no word of any missing pets, he said. However, both homes are uninhabitable and the American Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents.

Investigators are still trying to determine where and how the fire started, he said.

Firefighters from Albany, Oakland and Alameda County assisted Berkeley firefighters in battling the blaze.

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