A UC Berkeley senior who stayed at a friend's house after a party was found dead yesterday morning after a fire engulfed the Oakland home.
Bradley Evans, 23, lived in Berkeley but was spending the night in a spare bedroom at 5247 Desmond St. when a fast-moving fire started downstairs at about 7 a.m.
Five others managed to escape the fire, including one man, Brent Steele, who jumped off the roof, injuring his head and back. Steele was taken to Highland Hospital, where he was in guarded condition yesterday.
In addition, a woman was rescued by firefighters through a second-story window. After everyone who escaped from the house gathered outside, they were unsure whether anyone was left inside because partygoers had gone to sleep at different times of the night. Firefighters walked through the house twice before they found Evans' remains upstairs, said Evans' roommate Noah Singer.
The Rev. Paul Donlan, a chaplain, was allowed by firefighters to enter the charred and crumbling building to pray over Evans' body before the coroner arrived. Evans was lying face down in a rear room full of ashes and debris, Donlan said. "I suspect he was asleep and never woke up," he said.
The Alameda County coroner will conduct an autopsy today. The fire, reported at 7:12 a.m., gutted the house in the Rockridge neighborhood where five friends, students and recent graduates of the University of California at Berkeley, were living.
The tragedy followed a night of celebration. Two of the home's residents had graduated in December and were planning to travel to Europe, so two dozen friends held a farewell party at the home Saturday. Evans spent the night afterward.
Yesterday morning, Willie Decker, 22, said he had been asleep in his second- story bedroom when he heard his roommate Mike Bise, a former lifeguard, shouting "Fire! Fire!"
Decker did not hear a smoke alarm, he said. "The sound of the fire itself was totally overwhelming," he said. The hallways were blocked with smoke and flames, so Decker hung out the window and dropped to the ground.
The sound of screams from the burning house awakened across-the-street neighbors Bert Verrips and Karen Johnson.
"At first, I thought the party was still going on," said Johnson. When they saw smoke, they dragged a ladder from their garage and helped a man climb down from the roof.
Authorities were still investigating the cause of the fire, but Oakland Fire Department Capt. Vicky Evans-Robinson said it probably had started in the living room. The fire was brought under control at 7:52 a.m. by 28 firefighters.
Evans was planning to graduate in May, said friends of the psychology major from Newport Beach. They described him as friendly with a mop of curly hair, and a cyclist with a talent for music. He played bass for a band called Fillup Phil, Singer said.
"We were planning on recording an album and touring," Singer said. "All I can tell you is he was like a brother to me."
According to property records, the eight-bedroom house was built in 1914 and is owned by Frederick and Kathleen Morse of Oakland.
Firefighters did not confirm that the house had smoke detectors, but Kathleen Morse, reached by phone at home, said the house was equipped with the safety devices. She said that students even signed a form confirming the presence of smoke detectors before they moved in.
"We're just in shock," she said. "It's a tragedy."
Yesterday's fire was the second to claim the life of a UC Berkeley senior this school year. On Aug. 20, 1999, 21-year-old Azalea Jusay and her parents, Francisco and Florita Jusay, perished in afire in a rented Berkeley home on Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
Jusay's brother, 20, filed a lawsuit earlier this month accusing the building's owners of negligence because investigators found no trace of smoke detectors in the house.
Oakland -- A memorial service will be held Friday in Orange County for Bradley Evans, a University of California at Berkeley student who was killed in an Oakland house fire. He was 23.
He died from burns and smoke inhalation as a result of a fire that broke out inside a home at 5247 Desmond St. about 7:15 a.m. Sunday, authorities said.
Mr. Evans, of Berkeley, was a senior at UC Berkeley who was majoring in psychology. He graduated in 1996 from Corona del Mar High School in Orange County.
Mr. Evans worked at Zachary's Pizza in Berkeley. He had also worked for the UC Berkeley Police Department as a community service officer, providing night escort services for students.
"He was really a great, caring guy," said David Fruchbom, 23, of Los Angeles, who went to high school with Evans. "He was an incredible person."
Mr. Evans was an avid cyclist who played bass for a band called Fillup Phil, friends said.
Another former high school classmate, recent UC Berkeley graduate Brent Steele, 23, was injured in the blaze. He was in guarded but stable condition yesterday at Highland Hospital in
Oakland. Four other people who were inside the home at the time escaped with minor injuries.
In a statement yesterday, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl said he was saddened by Mr. Evans' death.
"This is such very tragic news," he said. "Our prayers are with
Bradley Evans' family and friends. Such a loss is so hard for us all to comprehend, but we are enormously grateful that Oakland firefighters and neighbors responded so quickly and that the others in the house escaped grave injury."
A memorial service has been scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Friday at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach in Orange County. Flags at UC Berkeley will be lowered on Friday in honor of Mr. Evans, according to university officials.
Friends and relatives of the UC Berkeley student killed in a fire Sunday morning are mourning the loss of a person they remember as "gracious and friendly."
Bradley Phillips Evans, 23, was found dead in the house at approximately 7 a.m. Sunday after a blaze swept through the 5247 Desmond St. residence, injuring several other students.
Brent Steele, who graduated from UC Berkeley last fall, was also injured in the fire and remains in stable condition at Highland Hospital, officials said yesterday.
Oakland police Capt. Vicky Evans-Robinson said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, and officials do not know why Evans was not able to escape from the fire.
She added that the fire department does not currently know whether the house had working smoke detectors.
Dan Apperson, a county coroner's spokesperson, said Evans died of thermal burns and smoke inhalation. Officials contacted his father, Paul Evans.
The fire was reported at 7:12 a.m. Sunday to the Oakland Police Department, and the Oakland Fire Department responded soon after,Evans-Robinson said.
Six residents were at home when the fire started, Evans-Robinson said.
She said four people were transported and treated at either Highland or Summit hospitals in Oakland. Two other residents suffered from minor smoke inhalation but refused treatment.
Another UC Berkeley student, William Decker, escaped the fire by jumping from a second-story window.
Evans, a senior psychology major, did not live in the house and was "just crashing there" after a party the night before, Decker said.
As people left flowers outside of the residence, friends of the fire victims and one of the seven roommates living in the house removed charred possessions from the house yesterday.
"He was the sweetest guy I've ever met," said a friend of Evans from his hometown, Newport Beach, Calif., who wished to remain anonymous. "He'll be missed by everyone."
Evans worked for the UCPD as a community service officer, providing night security and other safety services.
On campus and at home in Newport Beach, people who knew him mourned for Evans this weekend.
"It's really hard to say because I think when a person dies, people say they were the best person, but genuinely, he was," said Leandra Schuler, a co-worker at Zachary's Chicago Pizza in Berkeley where Evans worked for almost two years. "He was so nice and kind and generous." "He was just ultra, super-friendly, and we loved him very, very much," Schuler said. "He's like the kind of person that when you're around him, he makes you want to be a better person."
The fire was the second blaze to claim the life of a UC Berkeley student this year.
Azalea Jusay, a UC Berkeley senior, and her parents Francisco and Florita died Aug. 20 when a moving box left on top of a heater caught fire, which swept through the house as they slept.
The building did not have operating smoke detectors, and the family was unable to escape because the second-story windows were sealed shut, said Berkeley fire officials in August.
"This is such very tragic news," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Berdahl. "Our prayers are with Bradley Evans's family and friends. Such a loss is so hard for us all to comprehend, but we are enormously grateful that Oakland firefighters and neighbors responded so quickly and that the others in the house escaped grave injury."
UC Berkeley's flags will be lowered on Friday to honor Evans.
Brian Bishop, manager of Zachary's Pizza, said about 30 co-workers gathered on Sunday to remember Evans.
"When someone dies, everyone says how full of life and energetic they were, and it all sounds so cliche," Bishop said. "But I've been reflecting over those thoughts and I think people in our situation are without alternatives to say other things, except that they're all true."