29 years later: A look back at Oakland firestorm

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Today marks 29 years since the devastating Oakland Hills Firestorm that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes.

The somber anniversary comes as extreme fire danger plagues the Bay Area yet again.

Firefighters say it was one of the worst and most expensive fires to rage through California at that time.

The firestorm killed 25 people and injured 150 others.

It also destroyed nearly 3,000 homes.

The 7-acre fire originally started on October 19th in a canyon along Buckingham Boulevard near the Caldecott Tunnel. 

Firefighters thought they put it out but the fire reignited the next morning driven by heavy winds reaching up to 65 miles-per-hour. 

Those winds sent embers everywhere in the Oakland Hills and quickly took over the area.

Oakland hills residents and firefighters remember the firestorm vividly, meanwhile, Oakland firefighters say they’ve learned a lot since then and equipment has improved.

“It was really like moving into a war zone,” a resident said.

“That was just a strange day. It was actually my grandmother’s birthday. I remember all of the smoke at first. It actually looked like fog and I thought this doesn’t match,” another said.

“The technology has improved and our awareness and knowledge of fire behavior and training has improved so on red flag days we are staffed up. We put patrols throughout the city. That increases not only our awareness but also our ability to respond in case fires do break out. It puts more people on a fire scene in a shorter amount of time,” a fire official said.

Since then, firefighters say the fires have only become larger and more devastating.

Unfortunately, we’ve been seeing this first hand in the Bay Area for the last two months and in the last couple of years.

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