Hours after a three-alarm fire ripped through the iconic First Congregational Church, traffic crawled on the south side of the University of California, Berkeley campus.
The police department closed streets around the building while crews battled flames and even after. Fire officials are concerned the weakened brick walls could collapse, so some of those closures are expected to remain in effect — and likely cause gridlock — during homecoming weekend through Sunday.
Cal's Golden Bears are scheduled to take on the Utes at 3 p.m. Saturday on Kabam Field at California Memorial Stadium.
Sree Boyella of Berkeley said traffic is already “super crazy on game days. With this unfortunate incident, traffic is going to be even worse.”
On Saturday, the fire department says Dana Street between Durant and Channing Way, and Channing Way between Fulton and Dana streets will be closed to traffic. Officials urged people to park further away from the venue and walk.
Some parking will also be affected because the church lot is off limits. Church neighbor David Aguirre said a lot of people use the church parking spaces during UC Berkeley games, and the money collected “supports the church.”
Aguirre took video of the fire when crews arrived.
“It was hot,” he said, and “smoke was blowing toward dorms,” forcing residents to shut their windows.
Aguirre said he was relieved no one was hurt, but was sorry to see that the congregation will have to rebuild.