OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – For the next few days, expect to see fire engines roaming Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Skyline Boulevard day and night as red flag conditions set nerves on edge again.
Along Grizzly Peak, your eye is drawn to the smoky skies, but the built up vegetation in the canyon below is what makes 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm survivor Susan Piper worried.
“It’s a disaster waiting to happen,” Piper told KPIX 5 via Zoom.
Piper and other survivors are members of the Oakland Fire Safe Council and are dedicated to making sure another firestorm doesn’t ruin lives in these hills again.
“In a disaster, the first responders are you and your neighbors,” she said.
“Right now, we are looking at conditions that are hot, dry and breezy which is a recipe for disaster in any fire season,” said Michael Hunt with the Oakland Fire Department.
Most residents have been working for weeks to clear vegetation. In fact, 85 percent of all residents in the hills have passed their annual defensible space checks from the fire department.
“Although that 15 percent is scary,” Hunt said. “To have 15 percent of the population not adhere to the compliance standards around vegetation management poses a great threat to all residents and the first responders who would ultimately come up here to fight a fire.”
Piper has her go bags packed and evacuation routes planned so she doesn’t have another moment like this.
“I was at the bottom of Hillard Drive right when the eucalyptus at the start of Highway 13 and Tunnel Road exploded in front of us and I had a 9-year-old in the car,” she recalled.