Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Suspicious Fires at 2 Libraries Not Related, Official Says

By Doug Oakley
Staff Writer
Berkeley's Central Library reopened Monday afternoon after an intentionally set fire in the men's bathroom on Saturday set off water sprinklers that damaged some books and computers, Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong said.

A second fire at the North Branch library on Hopkins Street over the weekend was probably set by someone trying to keep warm while camping on the property, Dong said. That fire is unrelated to the downtown library fire, he said.

The North Branch is currently closed for renovations. Dong said the fire there was apparently started with leaves and trash and was about six feet away from the side of the building.

On Saturday at the downtown Central Library, sprinklers in the second-floor men's bathroom automatically activated at about 2:30 p.m. by an intentionally set fire, Dong said. The water from the sprinklers flowed downstairs and damaged books and computers, he said. He said there also was some water and fire damage in the bathroom.

The library closed after the fire and public works crews came in on Sunday to clean up the mess, he said.

Books or other material that was due on Saturday or Sunday will not accrue fines, according to a post on the Central Library website. 

Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at

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