Berkeley woman, 31, arrested on suspicion of arson after Albany Hill fire

Firefighters respond to a blaze on Albany Hill Sunday. Credit: Bryan Marten

A 31-year-old Berkeley woman has been arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with a fire on Albany Hill on Sunday afternoon.

The woman was arrested Sunday and taken to Santa Rita Jail, according to Albany city spokesperson Brennen Brown.

Around 3:30 p.m. the Albany Fire Department received reports of two vegetation fires — one near the intersection of Washington and Cleveland avenues and one on the west side of Albany Hill. Berkeley, Richmond, El Cerrito and Contra Costa County provided mutual aid.

The Albany Police Department closed roads and ordered residents living on Gateview and Hillside avenues and on Taft Street to evacuate their homes and go to Golden Gate Field as firefighters combated the blaze. People on the 600 block of Jackson Street were told to shelter in place.

The evacuation was called off by 6:45 p.m. No structures were damaged or people injured by the fires.

A security guard alerted an Albany police officer that the woman may have set the Albany Hill fire, and the woman was arrested, according to an Albany Police Department Facebook post.

The incident is still under investigation.

During the evacuation, an AC Alert was issued but no information was shared on Zonehaventhe county’s evacuation software system that launched last year.

Brown said that’s partly because only a few specific streets needed to be evacuated, not an entire neighborhood. But Albany would make an effort to alert residents through Zonehaven for similar fires in the future, he said.

“It’s a fairly new process, and we’re still trying to work it out,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story reported that charges had been filed against the woman arrested on suspicion of arson. Albany spokesperson Brennen Brown told Berkeleyside the woman had been charged, but the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office subsequently notified us that a charging decision had yet to be made. The woman’s name has been removed from this story.

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