OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland and Berkeley fire departments, community members and the families of victims came together for an annual tree lighting to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1991 Oakland Berkeley firestorm.

Oakland and Berkeley’s mayors were also there to pay tribute.

The 30-year tradition was born around hope in the aftermath of that firestorm. 

Those who began the tradition say this tree resembles continued hope and the courage to come back and rebuild in both Oakland and Berkeley. 

Meanwhile the lights, they’re a symbol of all who lost their lives.

Lights once again shining from up above near Grizzly Peak.

Each year, they serve as a symbol of hope on the anniversary of the 1991 Oakland Berkeley firestorm, which was considered one of the worst and most expensive fires in California at that time.

On Wednesday, fire officials, city leaders, and community members came together for the lighting of the “Tree of Hope” as this week marks 30 years since the fire raged through this area destroying 3,000 structures and killing 25 people, including Luis McNeary Jr. 

“Brings back memories and the memories are not always great, so I feel anxious about this event but I am pleased by the amount of people showed up and the attention this is getting because even though this happened 30 years ago we’re still affected by the loved ones that we’ve lost,” Alicia said.

Luis McNeary Jr.’s daughter, Alicia, says this day doesn’t get any easier as the years go by but they remember the sacrifice their father made and are proud of what he did.

“My father did get out of his home in time and then one of his neighbors came out and said her husband couldn’t get out so he went back in to try and get him out as well and in doing that he passed away,” Alicia said. 

Oakland police officer Jon Grubensky and Oakland fire battalion chief, James Riley also gave the ultimate sacrifice 30 years ago. 

They died while responding to the fires and trying to keep residents safe.

In addition to remembering all 25 lives lost, families and first responders gathered to recognize the improvements made because of that fire and continue to challenge how we can better respond.

“It’s not a focus on the tragedy that happened. We’re remembering that but we’re also looking at the goodness that came out of it so now we have different policies and procedures for these fires and aid from different organizations and processes in places to help those people who have suffered from this tragedy to rebuild,” a resident said.

The Tree of Hope will be relit December 1st through the rest of December.

The cause of the fire is still undetermined.