In light of the record-setting drought and ongoing wildfires ravaging parts of California, East Bay Regional Park District fire officials are urging the public to practice extra caution during this hot, dry season.
“Because everything is so dry, any small fire has the potential to become a catastrophe,” said East Bay Regional Park District Fire Chief Dan McCormick. “All fire departments are on high alert right now and are assisting with fires throughout the state. We all appreciate the public’s cooperation and support as we try to keep our state safe.”
Park District fire crews are assisting with the Butte Fire in the Sierra foothills and Cal Fire staffing in the East Bay while Cal Fire crews are assigned elsewhere. Throughout the Park District’s 120,000 acres, smoking is prohibited in wildland areas, and campfires and barbecues are restricted to designated areas. When fire danger is extreme, campfires and barbecues are prohibited. In addition, work crews are clearing out dead brush and other fire hazards throughout the parklands.
The East Bay Hills have a long history of devastating wildfires, most occurring in the dry autumn months. A fire in September, 1923 in Berkeley destroyed 640 homes and other structures, and in October, 1991 a fast-moving wildfire killed 25 people, injured 150, and consumed more than 3,000 homes in Oakland and Berkeley.
“We have a responsibility to keep the East Bay Hills safe for the public, our employees, and wildlife. We take this very seriously,” said Park District General Manager Robert Doyle. “Given the very serious drought conditions, all fire prevention efforts are urgent.”
Here are some reminders on how the public can help minimize fire risks:
· Homes adjacent to parks should have at least 100 feet of defensible space.
· Don’t drive over or park on dry grass.
· If you see smoke, call 911.
· Extinguish all campfires and barbecues.
For more information about fire safety and updated advisories, go to www.ebparks.org/fire-warning.
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 119,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.