1923 Berkeley, California fire

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A frame from a newsreel documenting the fire.

The 1923 Berkeley fire was a conflagration which consumed some 640 structures, including 584 homes in the densely built neighborhoods north of the campus of the University of California in Berkeley, California on September 17, 1923.

Although the exact cause was never determined, the fire began in the undeveloped chaparral and grasslands of Wildcat Canyon, just east of the ridgeline of the Berkeley Hills, and was propelled over the ridge and southwestward just south of Codornices Creek by a strong, gusty, and intensely dry northeasterly wind. The fire quickly blew up as it swept through the La Loma Park and Northside neighborhoods of Berkeley, overwhelming the capabilities of the Berkeley Fire Department to stop it. A number of UC students fought the advance of the fire as it approached the north edge of the University of California campus at Hearst Avenue. The other edge of the fire was fought by firefighters as it advanced on downtown Berkeley along the east side of Shattuck Avenue north of University Avenue. Firefighters were rushed in from neighboring Oakland while San Francisco sent firefighters by ferry across the bay. The fire was halted when the gusty northeast wind was suddenly stopped by the cool, humid afternoon seabreeze.

As a belated result of this fire, in 1948, the City of Berkeley constructed a fire station in the hills at 2931 Shasta Road (at Queens Road) just below Grizzly Peak Blvd.[1] In the early 2000s, this station was replaced and relocated to a nearby site just above Grizzly Peak Blvd. at 3000 Shasta Road,[2] on the interface between the residential area and Tilden Regional Park, very close to the putative origin of the 1923 fire.

See also[edit]


  • Report on the Berkeley, California Conflagration of September 17, 1923, National Board of Fire Underwriters' Committee on Fire Prevention and Engineering Standards.
  1. ^ City Council Minutes, Aug.26, 1947
  2. ^ Berkeley Fire Department Stations

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°53′N 122°15′W / 37.89°N 122.25°W / 37.89; -122.25