Berkeley fire officials said the three-story home with wooden shingles at the top of a steep driveway at 1177 Keith Ave. was fully engulfed when they arrived a few moments after a resident of nearby Keeler Avenue reported smoke.
Interim fire Chief Gil Dong said the fire was contained as of 12:25 p.m. but about an hour later smoke and flames were still coming from the third floor.
Acting deputy fire Chief Averyn Webb said the fire mainly was confined to the home's second and third floors and nearby homes weren't damaged, although there were some scary moments and nearby residents were advised but not forced to evacuate.
Webb said it wasn't immediately clear if the people who live at 1177 Keith Ave. were at home when the fire broke out. The residents were nearby as firefighters completed their work but declined to talk to reporters.
Investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire and the amount of damage to the house hasn't been assessed, Webb said.
He said it was "difficult" for firefighters to get to the house and battle the blaze because the roads are curvy and narrow, there are a lot of trees and long hoses had to be run up the hill to carry water to the house.
Webb said five engines, two trucks, two ambulances and additional fire personnel responded to fight the fire.