Posts Tagged ‘Oakland Hills Fire


Keep Compliant With Fire Code

Every fire season, inspectors prowl around our hills and make sure that property owners aren’t lax about maintaining defensible space between vegetation and homes.  It’s easy to violate codes with such verdant growth here.

We live within the Oakland Wildfire Prevention District, which is classified as a very high hazard severity zone.  The big hills fires appear like clockwork, and the last one happened 18 years ago.  That means we (well, you) need to keep the potential tinder at bay.

Fire Code - Out Of Compliance

Starting June 15th, the inspectors begin checking our compliance with California Fire Codes.  There are full-timers assigned to homes within Montclair, and they visit properties unannounced all summer.  They are looking for “bad” vegetation growth and more, as depicted in this video.

So it’s time to get your property cleared out!  Otherwise, the City of Oakland will charge $275 if you don’t meet codes and require a re-inspection.

Compliance Requirements

Here are the official things you need to do:

  1. Maintain a 30-foot fuel reduction zone around all buildings/structures; more may be required. Cut grass to 6 inches or less. Shrubs need to be maintained.
  2. If property is greater than 1/2 acre, maintain a 100 ft.  defensible space/fuel reduction zone from all buildings and neighboring structures; more may be required.
  3. Maintain a 10-foot minimum clearance next to the roadside; more may be required.
  4. Remove all portions of trees within 10 feet of chimney and/or stovepipe outlets.
  5. Maintain a 10 feet minimum horizontal clearance of tree crowns from any structure.
  6. Maintain the roof of any structure free of leaves, needles or other dead/dying vegetation.
  7. Maintain trees adjacent to structures free of dead/dying vegetation.  Remove dead/dying vegetation from property.
  8. Remove all tree limbs within 6 feet of the ground.
  9. Wood chips must not be deeper than 6 inches (no piles).
  10. Provide Street address numbers that are clearly visible from the roadside: minimum height 4 inches, in a contrasting color.
  11. Storage of firewood shall be located a minimum of 20 feet from structures and separated from the crown of trees by a minimum horizontal distance of 15 feet.

Hauling The Debris

All this compliance translates into a lot of yard debris.  Of course, trimmings should be placed in your green cart for weekly pick-up.

Extra trimmings will get picked up, at no extra charge, if you place them in your own container (under 35 gallons) or deposit them in a brown paper bag next to your cart.  You can also bundle a few branches no larger than 4′ long for pick-up.  Nothing in plastic bags here!

To handle seasonal efforts, you may take advantage of a free curbside tree and brush chipping service.  You need to leave branches no greater than 4” in diameter, stack them in piles no greater than 4’ by 4’ long, and have no more than two stacks per pick-up.  Please call the chipping crew in advance, at 510-238-7388.

If you are dumping more debris regularly, then it’s possible to pay $7.59 monthly for a second green cart.  For those who do clean up in one fell swoop, you may want to arrange a one-time bulky pickup.  For any additional services, call Waste Management at 510-613-8710.

More info:   Oakland Wildfire Prevention DistrictPrevention VideoClean-up ServicesHomeowner FlyerOakland Recycles


Montclair Mirror: Your Searches Tell All

Today we would like to share what’s interesting to Montclarions, as reflected by the most popular searches conducted to find Today in Montclair and postings clicked once here.  In case you are worried, nothing traces back to individuals at all.

Let’s start with what you searched throughout 2008.  Bar none, the Hans Reiser case was the most sordid and popular news of the year.  Beyond that infamous murder case, our most prevalent concerns related to local fires, burglaries, voting, home values, and a little shopping.

Reiser On 48 Hours

All Things Reiser: Our famous murder case featured computer expert Hans Reiser, who killed and buried his wife in the hills.  We were aghast at the court proceedings, Nina’s recovery and their poor kids.  CBS-TV even aired a special 48 Hours program last night, where Hans reflected on his crime:

I felt that I was trying to keep my children safe….I feel very sad.  Sometimes, sometimes keeping children safe doesn’t lead to happiness.  In the law, there’s a difference between killing and murder.  I think that Rory deserved to be safe, which is different from thinking that Nina deserved to die.  I don’t think that people who hurt children or threaten to hurt children should die, but I think that children should be safe.  And I’m very sorry that Nina died.

Fires: There’s ongoing interest in local fires, long after the flames have been snuffed out.  As everyone knows, there were two main events this past year, namely the pre-season Hiller flare-up below homes and above Rt 24; and the late-season Tilden blaze mistakenly set during controlled burning.

Crimes: Of course, all the local crimes deserved our attention and there were some creative efforts like the restaurant stick-ups.  More recently, there have been perpetrators casing the hills and later breaking in.  While we have apprehended some burglars, there’s ongoing interest in how to protect our hearths.

Voting: This civic discourse was heartening, at national and local levels.  We wanted to attend an Obama rally, know exactly where to vote, and find out election results.  The interest in village leaders, local reps, and measures like OO and  WW was strong as well.

Home Values: The top searches related to median prices which recently held steady, as well as foreclosures and their movements.  Many villagers have lived here a long time, before cheap credit appeared.  As the market contracts and job losses mount, we’re holding our breath for the bad news ahead.

Pizza, Pizza: The sad truth is that Montclarions searched for pizza places more than anything else, except the Reiser murder.  Do you recall The Net (1995) with Sandra Bullock, when she ordered pizza online?  It’s nothing today to check menus or reviews online, though we still place orders by phone.  Searches for other edibles paled by comparison.

More Goods: Yes, the web has become our new yellow pages.  The searches for clothing, gifts and kids stuff remained steady all year.  Of course the search volumes spiked over the holidays, including decorations, village events and giving back to others.

So there you have it, a Montclair mirror held up to our collective souls.  We care about larger issues in our community, staying safe at home, and maybe trying to save a little time.  Just a microcosm of Hills life, I suppose.


Fire Season’s Officially Over

Hallelujah, the fire season’s officially over!

We fared well this year, with no real damage to home and hearth.  No one was forced to flee, like the Big One back in 1991.  Look at this photo showing everyone driving, one-way through town – and with the fires raging only a few miles behind them.

Oakland Fire 1991

During the 2008 season, we had two “book-end” fires:  one early and one late in the season.

The Hiller fire arrived in June and burned three acres.  It looked intense but was snuffed out quickly because we were, well, prepared for this sort of fire in the same place as 1991.

At the end of October, there was a controlled burn-gone-bad outside Tilden Park.  The Grizzly Peak fire burned around ten acres in the woods, but was put out quickly by coordinated fire fighters.

Add a few official Red Flag Warning days, where the winds are high and anything can ignite – and call the Fire Season over.


How Many Oakland Fires?

The correct answer would be thirteen fires, including the recent Hiller flare-up.

Montclarions and nearby Hills inhabitants have lived through some amazing fires. Yet homes have covered up the 1991 destruction, and newcomers arrive without memories.

Lest we forget, the Diablo Winds sparked some devastating fires in 1923, 1931, 1933, 1937, 1946, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, 1991, 1995 and 2002.

Some fires were worse than others. The 1,000+ acre fires happened in 1931, 1933, 1946, 1960 and 1991. Of course, the ones wiping out the most homes took place in 1923 and 1991.

The fires will appear again – and maybe we are a bit smarter about controlling brush and trying to defend our homes against them.

The pleasures of Montclair living, right? We like our trees and beautiful vegetation, but it comes with some risk.

More info:  Compliance standardsHills fire historyOakland fire dept


Oakland’s Goats Prevent Fires

This morning, I noticed hundreds of goats hard at work.  They are quickly munching through brush and grasses – and getting rid of the tinder that spreads fires.  As you drive on Rt. 580, glance over to the hills near Knowland Park.  You can’t miss the munching workers!

These goats actively tour the area.  Last month, I spotted them on a field between Rts. 238 and 880.  I wondered when they would make their next appearance, and am glad they have returned.

According to the Governator, fire season is “all year” now.  Of course, the 800 fires raging through California are mind-blowing, and very early this year.

For the Oakland Hills, let’s hope the Hiller flare-up is our 2008 fire story.  We have to be realistic, though, about the continued risks from man-made and natural sparks.  Thus our goat workers are welcomed allies, beforehand.


Hiller Fire Photos, 2008

Nothing like a fire to support the first Red Flag Warning this season. In all seriousness, we are better prepared than in 1991 – and equally lucky we didn’t incur the wind god’s wrath last Thursday.

Joe Dougherty snapped a complete set of Hiller fire photos, including the fire crews and helicopter water drops. Here’s a preview of the fire, before it was controlled:

While the fire was around three acres – and extinguished quickly – it was very close to us. It’s time to pay attention to the brush around your homes, as this season could be a scorcher.


First Fire Warning Tonight

The National Weather Service has declared a “Red Flag Warning” tonight, due to very high winds. According to the Oakland Park Ranger, Kent McNab, this is the first fire warning of the season.

Between 9pm tonight and 6am tomorrow, all Oakland Hills residents should be a bit more careful. Simply put, please don’t start any outside fires – the embers could catch.

Within Oakland’s jurisdiction, Joaquin Miller Park will be closed to the public. No barbeques or even cigarettes are permitted during this alert. Welcome to summer in the hills.

May 2018
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Welcome to Montclair, Oakland

We live in the city yet are invaded by nature - or perhaps it's the other way around. Stop by often, and find out what's interesting to 94611 denizens.


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