The video above, transferred from a VHS tape in the collection of local man Johnny Sala, was shot as Sala and his family drove from San Francisco across the Bay Bridge on Sunday, October 20, 1991. The Oakland Hills Firestorm broke out extremely quickly around 11 a.m. that day, and Sala, his wife, and their young daughter were headed to Antioch for brunch with his son Eddie. On the way, as the tape shows, they begin to see the billowing smoke, and by the time they make it onto the 580 freeway in Oakland, it's clear that this is no ordinary or small fire and you can hear Sala explain to his daughter, regarding the homes on the hills, "Those are rich people up there."
(Skip to the 3:30 mark if you want to skip over Sala's latter-day narration.)
It's a kind of chilling, real-life snippet from the day, mostly because of its ordinariness, and the fact that the videographer and narrator really has no idea of the severity of what he's seeing until they get much closer. As they get onto the 24 freeway to head toward the Caldecott Tunnel the flames would ultimately jump across this freeway they encounter stopped traffic and they're directed off the freeway around Claremont Avenue, where Sala takes footage of them and others stopped on the street watching the smoke rise.