Berkeley woman, 31, charged with arson after Albany Hill fire

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Firefighters respond to a blaze on Albany Hill on Sunday. 1 credit

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

Megan Strahl was arrested Sunday and taken to the Santa Rita County Jail, according to Albany City Spokesperson Brennen Brown.

Around 3:30 p.m., the Albany Fire Department received reports of two wildfires – one near the intersection of Washington and Cleveland Avenues and the other on the west side of Albany Hill. Berkeley, Richmond, El Cerrito and Contra Costa County helped each other out.

The Albany Police Department closed roads and ordered residents living on Gateview and Hillside Avenues and Taft Street to evacuate their homes and report to Golden Gate Field while firefighters battle the blaze. Residents of the 600 block of Jackson Street have been ordered to shelter in place.

The evacuation was called off at 6:45 p.m. No structures were damaged or anyone injured from the fires.

A security guard alerted an Albany police officer that Strahl may have set fire to Albany Hill, and Strahl 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 about Zonehaven, the county’s evacuation software system launched last year.

Brown said that was 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 figure it out,” he said.

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