Firefighter falls 50 feet at scene of East Bay blaze

Lilian Kim Image
ByLilian Kim KGO logo
Thursday, August 3, 2017
Firefighter falls 50 feet at scene of East Bay blaze
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.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The flames are out but the worry is far from over as crews work overnight Wednesday to contain a fire that began in the Berkeley Hills off Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

RELATED: Prepare NorCal: Emergency Resources

A firefighter tumbled 50 feet when he encountered a hornet's nest on a hillside. He is in stable condition at a local hospital, but his injury is a reminder what crews are up against as they work to contain the fire.

"It's very steep terrain. It's rugged, and so it's hazardous to the firefighters and it's exhausting for them so they have to take things a little slower," said Morago-Orinda Fire Department Chief Stephen Healy.

The fire began near Grizzly Peak Boulevard near Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The flames burned 20 acres and at one point, firefighters considered shutting down the power to UC Berkeley because its transmission lines were in the fire's path.

RELATED: Former ABC7 photographer recalls destructive Oakland Hills fire on 25th anniversary

That never happened, but the fire did trigger the closures of several sites including a popular steam train ride. A herd of goats was also in danger, but it was safely relocated.

"The minute I knew what was happening I was on the phone with East Bay Regional Parks to the fire department saying, 'My goats are there! My goats are there!,'" said goat owner Terri Oyarzun. And they, of course, want nothing to happen to the animals either. They protect them as they would their own."

Gary Plotner lives down the hill. He was worried the flames would jump the ridge and move toward his home. "It's all brush -- dry brush. So depending on the condition and direction you could be in the path of the fire," he told ABC7 News.

But in the end, the flames kept their distance. Firefighters say the mop-up work will continue through Thursday evening. Grizzly Peak Boulevard between South Park Drive and Centennial Drive will be closed until them.

RELATED: 150 firefighters battle blaze above UC Berkeley

According to Drayton, about 100 children who were at two camps on East Bay Regional Park District land were voluntarily evacuated by the district because smoke was entering their campgrounds.