BERKELEY -- A woman was killed and two other people were hospitalized after a fire burned a three-story Victorian home Thursday morning, authorities said.
Berkeley fire crews were called to 2919 Lorina St. at 2:36 a.m. and found the back of the home "fully engulfed" when they arrived, Berkeley Fire Chief Donna McCracken said.
A Berkeley police officer was the first to arrive and attempted to crawl inside to look for the woman but had to turn back because of smoke, flames and heat, officials said.
Responding fire fighters "immediately went into rescue mode," McCracken said. "Crews were able to find some difficult-to-ascend attic stairs, and when they got up there, they found a female."
Firefighterswere able to get the woman down the stairs and tried to resuscitate her, but she was declared dead at the scene, McCracken said. The Alameda County Coroner identified her as Meredith Joyce, 26, of Berkeley. Deputy fire Chief Gil Dong said she was found in a finished attic "dorm room."
While investigators have not yet determined a cause, they believe the fire started in the back of the house and do not consider it a crime scene, said Berkeley Fire Marshall John Fitch.
Two other people were taken to Alta Bates Hospital with smoke inhalation and burns and are expected to survive, officials said.
Neighbors of the home were evacuated, and one house next door was also burned, Dong said. He estimated damages to the home where the
Neighbor Mark Coplan said he woke up and saw flames about 2:40 a.m.
"It looked insurmountable," Coplan said. "It looked like the whole building was in flames, but it turned out to be just in the back. There's this huge tree in the back and it seemed like the tree could go up and impact the rest of the neighborhood."
Coplan said firefighters had the flames out in about 20 minutes.
Eight people were in the home at the time of the fire, McCracken
"We don't know if there was a smoke detector," McCracken said. "We don't know how they were alerted to the fire, whether they were asleep at the time or awake. All of that is being investigated."