As fire crews continue to battle several wildfires in Northern California, the East Bay begins to make plans for a potential firestorm that, according to one UC Berkeley assistant professor, is very overdue.
The Daily Cal spoke with UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design associate professor John Radke, who told them that it's "very, very, very probable" that the East Bay may experience a large wildfire sometime soon. His reasoning is that the East Bay shares much of the same vegetation as Sonoma County, and that high temperatures are common for both areas.
The National Weather Service seemed to concur, as Curbed SF pointed out that they issued two "red flag" warnings for the East Bay, warning officials and residents that conditions were ripe for a potential wildfire outbreak. This warning was issued after strong gusts of winds began to blow down from the North Bay. The forecast also called for low humidity which helps wildfires to spread faster. The East Bay is likely to see some relief in that regard, as rain is expected late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning though that may end up concentrated in the North Bay. The amount of rainfall may be small, but any added moisture will help increase humidity, thus inhibiting fire spread.
One of the areas included in a red flag warning, the Oakland Hills, suffered its own major wildfire back in 1991. The Tunnel Fire burned over an entire weekend, claiming 25 lives, injuring 150, and destroying a combined 3,280 single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums in Berkeley and Oakland.
Since then, Berkeley has been working to implement as many safety checks and preventative measures as possible to ensure that the city doesn't experience another Tunnel Fire. The Daily Cal also touched on this, speaking with Susan Piper, chair of the Oakland Firesafe Council, and Oakland Hills Fire survivor. Piper told them, "There are inspections once a year but you’re responsible for maintaining that space every day of the year. We were inspected back in June, but stuff grows. You have to go out and maintain it."