Neighbors paused to gaze up on the charred stays of a Victorian house on Eighth Road in Northwest Berkeley on Thursday afternoon, whereas others set down flowers and shook their heads as they remembered Dennis Eimoto, a talkative and pleasant man who lived on the house for many years.
Eimoto, who grew up within the metropolis and attended Berkeley Excessive within the Seventies, is believed to have died in a large blaze at the home on Wednesday night. The Alameda County coroner’s workplace hasn’t but recognized him because the deceased man, however neighbors who knew Eimoto believed he succumbed to the blaze after surviving another fire at this home in 2018 when he was 71 years old. His dog died in that blaze.
Eimoto’s neighbors advised Berkeleyside on Thursday that he had continued to reside on the home after the hearth, however didn’t have utilities periodically and sure used a camp range for cooking and staying heat. Fireplace officers are nonetheless conducting an investigation on the giant, two-story house to find out how the blaze broke out and collapsed the construction.
Steven Riggs, Berkeley Fireplace Division performing fireplace marshall, was inspecting the scene on Thursday afternoon. He mentioned the home was by no means renovated after the earlier fireplace, so there have been many overlapping burn scars making the duty tougher. The house has been red-tagged by town, however there isn’t a injury estimate out there from fireplace officers, apart from the 120-year-old house being fully inhabitable.
Little garden gnomes, trinkets and novelty indicators occupied the entrance of the home the place bouquets of sunflowers, irises, roses and lilies amassed over the course of the afternoon.
A automotive stopped in entrance of the house and neighbor Sandra Couture stepped out with flowers in hand, standing for a very long time in entrance of the warning tape that had been strung up across the entrance. She and Eimoto usually used to speak about her canine, she mentioned, and the garden gnomes that they each collected for his or her yards. She was involved that he lived alone, like many others within the space.
“That is an prosperous neighborhood, how can town let this occur?” Couture requested.
Eimoto labored as a BART operator for about 25 years till 2008, in accordance with state public records, and was incomes a pension as lately as final 12 months. After the hearth in 2018, and once more this week, neighbors expressed concern that he was experiencing psychological well being points or drug dependancy, and that he could have been being taken benefit of by guests who would cease by his house.
On social media and in feedback on Berkeleyside, some neighbors expressed guilt that they hadn’t been in a position to assist him earlier than the “inevitable” occurred. Others mentioned help providers tried to achieve him, however he in the end grew to become proof against outdoors assist resulting from concern that he would lose his house, and his lifelong neighborhood.
Stu Brotman and Catherine Moncrieff, Eimoto’s longtime neighbors, mentioned he was markedly completely different earlier than a decline that started a couple of decade in the past that made it troublesome for them to maintain up along with his rambling ideas.
“In some unspecified time in the future, he modified. He simply couldn’t have a relationship with the neighbors,” mentioned Moncrieff, who final noticed him over a month in the past in his entrance yard. “He simply type of misplaced his method. I simply hope that he handed away earlier than the hearth occurred.”
There have been a number of events years in the past when he went fishing and introduced purchased again giant hunks of tuna for the neighborhood. In accordance with Monterey County paperwork from 1988, he was additionally a fishery biologist for the state Division of Fish and Sport (now the Division of Fish and Wildlife).
Brotman added that, by means of all of it, Eimoto maintained a “candy method” and a love for animals.
One neighbor, who hung out with Eimoto on the North Berkeley Senior Heart, recalled, on social media, his “impeccable sense of favor, and mentioned although he had dangerous days that concerned “screaming suits,” he’d later apologize and at all times tried to do his finest.
“Suave sufficient to tug off a go well with and a fedora whenever you needed, and daring sufficient put on a Hawaiian shirt, denims and a fragile pink flower over your ear the following day,” she wrote.
Kayla Hansen and Ezra Baum, each 19, grew up within the neighborhood, and mentioned Eimoto was infamous for chattering away at them till they have been nearly on the finish of the block. He was usually heat and pleasant, they mentioned, and loved frequenting a Pakistani restaurant close by. Typically, they might hear him angrily speaking to himself as he walked round his yard.
Others knew Eimoto’s mother and father, who lived with Eimoto and his late brother on the residence all through the Nineteen Eighties. The household handed down the residence to Eimoto and his brother, neighbors mentioned, and there appeared to be a disagreement about promoting the property. Eimoto was very connected to the house and lived out the remainder of his life there, till his demise this week.
Deborah Williams, a next-door neighbor, heard a loud popping sound on Wednesday night time and emerged from her house to see giant flames enveloping the constructing. She prayed that he wasn’t there, however, like many different neighbors, believes he handed away within the fireplace.
“He at all times gave me plenty of compliments on elevating my grandchildren, and all of the generations that got here up on by means of right here through the years,” Williams mentioned, “It’s very devastating, he was a really candy man.”
A candlelit vigil is deliberate for Eimoto at 5 p.m. on Saturday across the house.