Nov 132012

Note: We post this article about a fire at a biolab in West Berkeley because it  serves as a reminder of the fallibility of human engineering. While such labs may be considered safe under ‘normal’ conditions, normal conditions are increasingly rare in this, the Age of Disasters. — Synbiowatch

Cross-posted from Berkeleyside

Berkeley firefighters put out a two-alarm roof fire in West Berkeley on Monday afternoon at a biology lab space leased by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, authorities said.

Deputy Chief Gil Dong of the Berkeley Fire Department said the call, to the west end of Potter Street near Fifth Street, came in just before 1 p.m.

Dong said a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning contractor was working on the roof when some insulation roofing material caught fire.

“On arrival, the first engine company on scene saw flames coming from the rooftop,” he said, describing the fire as “fairly large.”

The fire was upgraded to a two-alarm response just after 1 p.m., after black smoke was reported coming from the roof.

Five Berkeley Fire engines and two trucks responded to the scene, along with two paramedic units and two chief officers.

A firefighter received a minor laceration during the incident, but no one else was injured, Dong said.

Most of the damage was limited to the roof, though there may also be some minor damage to the mezzanine and second floors, Dong said.

Officers from the Berkeley Police Department and the University of California Police Department responded to help with traffic control; Potter was closed at Seventh during the incident.

The fire was reported to be under control as of 1:45 p.m.

As of 2:10 p.m., crews were starting to wrap up, said Dong. He said a damage estimate was not yet available but that he could provide an update later.

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