OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A wind-whipped four-alarm fire damaged seven structures in the Oakland hills and forced at least 50 homes to be evacuated early Tuesday before firefighters could bring it under control.
Fire officials said the blaze was first reported around 11:30 p.m. Monday at a two-story house that was under construction in the 6800 block of Snake Road in the Montclair neighborhood of Oakland near the Caldecott Tunnel.
Embers quickly ignited a structure next door and spread to five other buildings in the nearly area of Asilomar Circle and Colton Boulevard.
“Embers definitely played a factor in this fire,” said Oakland Fire Chief Darin White.
Arriving firefighters found two homes on fire and the blaze quickly spreading to vegetation and other structures. It was elevated from one to four alarms.
“Based on wind conditions, arriving firefighters elevated the fire to a third alarm,” White said. “The embers were spreading from that location. From there it went to a fourth alarm.”
White said some neighbors reported hearing an explosion right before the houses caught fire.
He said two of the structures were burned to the ground while five others received varying degrees of damage. He said residents of at least 50 nearby homes were evacuated to an emergency shelter.
Among those evacuated was Michael McDonald and his son Keavi.
“We heard some banging,” Michael McDonald said. “He (Keavi) went out to the porch and saw the sky was orange…Embers were floating everywhere…We ran across the street and pounded on our neighbor’s door. She’s older and we wanted to make sure she was all right.”
The area which was devastated in 1991 by a massive wildfire.
“It was similar to 1991,” said evacuee Ian Anderson. “The neighbors were in their cars, honking their horns, yelling ‘Get out, Get out.”
The fire was under control by about 4 a.m. No one was injured in the fire, which remains under investigation.