The Oakland Hills Firestorm | The first day

The Oakland Hills Firestorm | The first day

1991 Firestorm Banner
Group of people standing in front of a fire engine

The Park District’s involvement began on Saturday, Oct. 19, when District firefighters responded to assist Oakland on the original fire, which had burned up a very steep slope from the back yard of a house on Buckingham Boulevard to a water tank near Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

District Fire Lt. Di Rosario, now Redwood Regional Park supervisor, recalls that it was a windless day, but the fire was very hot. It burned through brush, pine and eucalyptus dry from years of drought, but reached no houses. It consumed three to five acres before it was stopped.

District Fire Chief Joe Rubini was present during the Saturday fire. After evaluating weather reports, he ordered extra District firefighters to report for duty Sunday.

During the mop-up phase, Rosario and his crew started scraping a line of bare ground around the fire perimeter, extinguished hot spots, and left about 1,000 feet of district hose line in place in case of need.

Late in the day, Oakland fire commanders concluded that it had become too dark and dangerous for fire crews to work through the night on the steep slopes in the burn area. They left hose lines in place, and Oakland fire companies checked the scene during the night.

Burned hillside

A contingent of students from the Oakland fire academy had been assigned to help out overnight, but they were cancelled, and the Oakland Fire Department told the Park District firefighters to go home. They did, but with serious concerns, so Rosario drove around to some of the residents, and told them to call Oakland right away if the fire flared up again.

Continued...The fire rekindles

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