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1991 Firestorm Memories | Bea Soria Joins the Fire Crews

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Bea Soria

Bea Soria, who had smelled of smoke at Kent’s barbecue the day before, also fought the Sunday fire. To do so, she postponed a trip to Tacoma to see one of her sons, who was about to enter the U.S. Air Force.

Soria was told to join any fire unit she could find. Leaving her vehicle at Temescal, she joined a crew from Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and fought the fire in the Broadway Terrace neighborhood. They took good care of her. At one point, when she was almost overcome by smoke, two of them dragged her away from the flames and gave her oxygen. They were equipped with respirators. She wasn’t.

Soria found the fire “so devastating, but at the same time a beautiful sight.” The burning pines looked like Christmas trees. It was so hot that her soaked firefighting clothes were completely dry within an hour.

Released from duty at 11 p.m., she had no way home. Then a Navy volunteer gave her a ride, in all her fire gear, on the back of his motorcycle. She retrieved her auto from Temescal the next day, and made the trip to Tacoma in time.

Many firefighters, including Soria, received thank-you notes from residents. Hers, from a woman on Morpeth Street, read in part, “I’m delighted and was surprised to know one of our capable firefighters is a woman. The men speak highly of your abilities. I’m so happy to be back in my home. Thanks for saving it.”

> The Oakland Hills Firestorm – 20 Years Later: Our Story

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