Fire in hills above U.C. Berkeley campus nearly forces officials to cut power

Byby Leslie Brinkley KGO logo
Thursday, August 3, 2017
150 firefighters battle blaze above UC Berkeley campus
Crews responded to a brush fire burning in the Oakland Hills near Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Fish Ranch Road Wednesday afternoon.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- A brush fire burning in the Oakland Hills near Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Fish Ranch Road Wednesday afternoon nearly forced U.C. Berkeley to shut power to the entire campus.

The fire was small, but smoky and stubborn. The biggest problem has been the hilly terrain.

It started on Grizzly Peak Boulevard and South Park Drive.

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The blaze was reported at about 1:05 p.m., the dispatcher said.

Officials said traffic in the area was shut down as firefighters battled the fire. U.C. officials issued the alert shortly after 2:30 p.m. that PG&E was requiring the school to shut down the school's transformers immediately, and advised people not to use elevators until power was restored. But, the power was still on at the campus as of 4:15 p.m. after officials said the outage was delayed.

"At this time forward progress on the fire has been stopped. What we have now is a very difficult mop-up and final extinguish operation, primarily due to the heavy vegetation on the Grizzly Peak, on the Contra Costa County side," Moraga-Orinda Fire District Chief Stephen Healy said.

CAL FIRE assisted firefighters from Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda County Fire.

The fire burned in an area about a half mile from where the Oakland-Berkeley firestorm burned homes in 1991.

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Many of the trees in the area are Eucalyptus trees, which can cause problems. Officials said this area is where some of the trees are removed due to fire danger.

No structures were threatened by the fire, but the Lawrence Hall of Science closed for the remainder of the day.

More than 150 firefighters were assisting in the battle.

Residents over the hill in Orinda were advised to shelter in place if they are sensitive to smoke.

The fire had grown to ten acres

Bay City News contributed to this story.