OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Despite resistance from neighbors, the City of Oakland took a big step Tuesday night to prevent another big fire like the one that devastated the Oakland Hills in 1991.

Firefighters have said for years that getting rid of certain trees could prevent a second Oakland Hills fire. “Reduce the threat of fire to residents who live in and about those areas,” said Vincent Crudele of the Oakland Fire Department.

But when the hard plans surfaced, people against the plan came out of the woodwork and launched the Save the East Bay Hills campaign.

“It’s going to be a logging operation, that’s what it is,” said Jack Gescheidt of the Tree Spirit Project. “We’re going to eradicate an entire species by hundreds of thousands in era of global warming, it’s insane.”

Crudele admits parts of the hillside will look different, but he won’t call it clear cutting. “Yes, there will be a cosmetic change to the look of the lands, but it will be gradual,” Crudele said.

It’s a 10-year project, one that Nathan Winograd of Save the East Bay Hills has big issues with. “There’s an ulterior motive,” Winograd said.

He believes this isn’t about fire prevention at all, saying it’s a push to only have native trees on the hillside, and clear out everything else. “No better way to describe them than biological xenophobes,” Winograd said.

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