When milestone years come around, people take notice: it’s one score for the Oakland Hills fire disaster on October 20th, 1991. To commemorate the destruction of our northern neighborhoods, Oakland held many events to share memories and fire prevention tips. When Mother Nature strikes again, with her Diablo winds and fires, we should be able to reduce the damage.
Our favorite mitigation efforts are performed by goats annually. The City of Oakland and East Bay Regional Park District engage the goat herders and their charges, who chew hillsides clear and also serve as goodwill ambassadors. (Yes, the goat escapees provided additional entertainment this past spring.)
Less visible? There are coordinated efforts among East Bay cities, park districts and fire departments, through the Hills Emergency Forum. Every year, the Forum joins together and creates specific priorities to assess, prevent/mitigate, prepare and respond to fires. Please click and read this PDF file!
Active members include Oakland and El Cerrito along with the California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD), East Bay Regional Park District (EBRPD), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Moraga Orinda Fire Prevention District (MOFD) and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). Of course, some 14 city fire chiefs are also members.
Hills fires happen regularly, with recorded events in 1923, 1931, 1933, 1937, 1946, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2002. Along with homeowners and citizen group efforts, the Hills Emergency Forum needs to do their job. We hope all these East Bay jurisdictions stay focused on their shared responsibilities for fire prevention and response — assuming they have sufficient funding.