Red Flag Warning prompts concern from East Bay fire officials

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A red flag warning is in effect for much of the Bay Area. The East Bay Hills will experience high fire danger starting at 2 a.m. Tuesday until Wednesday morning, which is Halloween.

Drone View 7 flew over hills of dry grass in the East Bay Monday, which Berkeley Fire Chief, Dave Brannigan, says is a real concern, "by the end of October, we haven't had any substantial rain since the Spring, so all the fuels are really dry."

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Chief Brannigan, says the design of the neighborhoods in the East Bay Hills is problematic when it comes to surviving and fighting fires. "The neighborhoods were built so long ago that they were built with tiny little streets, houses a lot of which are wood shingle, trees and vegetation grows up right next to the houses, so it's really hard to get fire engines in and out at the same time people are trying to evacuate."

"I guess I worry that Oak trees are dry, everything's dry," said Terry Jackson who has lived in Berkeley for 60 years. He remembers the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm, which killed 25 people and destroyed more than 3-thousand homes. He worries about evacuating from his North Berkeley neighborhood in the event of a fire. "A heck of a lot of people trying to get out, so big time."

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The Berkeley Fire Department is also urging people to decorate with fire safety in mind this Halloween. Don't leave anything with a heat or electric source unattended. "A long time ago, we switched away from putting candles in the pumpkins to the little battery powered flicker lights that look like candles," said Berkeley resident James Tramel.

Chief Brannigan says if people are aware of a fire in their neighborhood, they should leave before they're told to evacuate by firefighters or law enforcement, to ensure they can get to safety quickly. He also says to make sure you know where to get information in the event of emergency, like local radio and TV news outlets, emergency alert systems, Twitter and the Berkeley City website.
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