Berkeley officials urge hillside residents to go elsewhere in extreme fire weather

Bay Area

BERKELEY (BCN) – City officials are urging residents who live in Berkeley hillsides to stay elsewhere during extreme fire weather events, according to a city news release issued Tuesday.

“During ‘Extreme Fire Weather’ — rare periods of extremely low humidity and high winds defined by Berkeley Fire Department — residents living in hillside fire zones are advised to make plans to stay elsewhere,” the statement reads.

City officials are encouraging these residents to sign up for emergency notifications, look up their evacuation zone and to make plans to leave when warnings are issued.

The areas of the city a greatest risk, officials said, are in fire zones 2 and 3 that are close to regional parklands in the hills on the eastern edge of the city, just north of state Highway 24 and stretching to the northern and eastern border with Contra Costa County.

A map of the area showing the fire zones is available here.

City officials said the evolving fire threat demands a different type of response.

“Severe fire weather conditions are now more common and as a result, so are catastrophic wind-driven fires,” according to the news release.

The Berkeley Fire Department has identified the types of very dry, windy conditions that create “Extreme Fire Weather” and compiled a chart and a video to help residents understand.

“A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert we receive from the National Weather Service. During these significant weather events, extreme caution is urged for all residents, any activity that could cause a spark is prohibited, and residents should make sure their household is ready to rapidly evacuate. The City of Oakland encourages every resident and business to know their zone through the use of Zonehaven (https://myzone.zonehaven.com/) and we‘re prepared to rapidly and strategically utilize the countrywide AC Alert system to notify residents in the event that an evacuation order is necessary. For anyone with anticipated transportation constraints or physical mobility challenges which may prevent them from relocating quickly in the event of an emergency, the Fire Department strongly recommends you consider relocating in advance or at the earliest possible stage of the weather event.”

Michael Hunt, Chief of Staff, Oakland Fire Department

To learn more, visit myzone.zonehaven.com.

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