As you may have heard over the weekend, a massive fire broke out in Berkeley Friday night, seriously damaging the building on the southwest corner of Haste and Telegraph, which houses Intermezzo, Raleigh's Bar and Grill, and Thai Noodle II, in addition to 39 apartment units. The fire, which is reportedly the biggest in the East Bay since the 1991 hills fire, burned for seventeen hours, rendering the apartment units inside the building uninhabitable, the street-level businesses destroyed, and the building itself structurally unstable. According to SFist, there were no apparent injuries, and the cause of the fire was still unknown as of this morning. Here is an absolutely bananas video of the melee, from YouTuber dbrekke:
As Berkeleyside implies, the fire may prove to be devastating to the Telegraph Avenue district as a whole, not just the residents and businesses that have been displaced. As we reported earlier this year, the long-vacant lot across Telegraph from the damaged building is currently the subject of foreclosure proceedings by the city of Berkeley — proceedings which the lot's owner, Ken Sarachan, is fighting, thereby potentially slowing down development even further. The rest of the street is also dotted with vacant buildings, including, most noticeably, the old Cody's Book site across the street from the fire, which has sat empty since the bookstore closed five years ago, and the old Blake's building, which has been empty since February (but is soon to become a sports bar). And now, with a newly blighted building and three fewer businesses, who knows what'll happen to the once-bustling business district. In the meantime, Berkeleyside reports that the UC Berkeley ASUC is holding a donation drive for the building's displaced residents; details here.