Oakland Hills firestorm memorial vandalized

Oakland fire memorial vandalized

October 8, 2010 12:36:43 AM PDT
A memorial to the victims of the Oakland Hills firestorm is horribly defaced because vandals stole huge chunks of the bronze sculpture, likely to resell it. They will probably get $4 for a pound for it, while thousands are now needed to repair the memorial.

The sculpture has been in Oakland since 1993 and in 17 years, nothing like this has happened before. Some bars were sawed off in the middle of the night and some bars were bent.

To say Gordon Piper cherishes the Firestorm Memorial Garden, would be an understatement. He comes to the memorial daily and would notice if anything were out of place.

"I found this bar lying in the gravel," said Piper.

One broken bar wasn't the only problem. On Wednesday night, someone vandalized the bronze sculpture built specifically to remember the victims of the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

"It's like getting kicked in the stomach, just kind of the feeling...that mean spirited action," said Piper.

Piper didn't just help build this garden, he also lost his home in the massive fire storm. He finds solace there among the flowers and the bronze beams of the sculpture. Each bar symbolizes a new eucalyptus tree, but now eight bars are gone.

"I think it's probably related to the economy and people selling this for scrap," said Piper.

"Who needs scrap steel?" said Peter Scott.

Peter Scott was outraged by what's happened after ABC7 showed him what's left of the sculpture.

The sculpture stands just a few feet from the names of the 25 people who died in the fire, including Frances Gray Scott, Peter's mother, who was home alone when the fire swept across Alvarado Road.

"Those of us who went through it, don't want people to forget and that's what that garden is, it's a reminder," said Scott.

"Those are mean people, I mean it seems like they don't care. We do care around here," said Oakland resident Josephine Chan.

That's why those who live around here aren't taking any chances. Even though they've reported the vandalism to police, a tarp went over the sculpture to protect it and motion detectors are also being installed.


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