East Bay emergency officials stepped up enforcement Wednesday after a public outcry about a number of recent fires.

Grizzly Peak in the Berkeley Hills is known for its absolutely breathtaking vistas, available at any one of its turnouts. But people do more than enjoy the view up there.

“We’ve definitely been hearing something going on around here, whether it’s fireworks or gunshots or what, but definitely we hear it throughout the night,” said resident Chelsea Graf.

That’s why elected leaders and a slew of East Bay fire and police agencies are announcing a crackdown.

“Do not come up here at night. If you’re up here during the day, you should not be smoking here,” said Dan Kalb from the Oakland City Council. “Keep in mind the risk we have, and let’s be the kind of neighbor we should be to each other.”

Mentioned several times was the 1991 Oakland Hills fire that killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes. With global warming and years of tree killing droughts since then, the concern is that the next fire could be much bigger.

“We are talking about Grizzly Peak, Skyline, and the areas that go back to Orinda, Moraga, Contra Costa County, unincorporated areas, well into Berkeley,” said Johnna Watson from the Oakland police.

The hills could be one discarded cigarette or firecracker away from burning and residents have taken that into account, and choose to stay.

“When I moved to the neighborhood it was sort of a consideration. It’s hard to get fire insurance but again the pros of living up here, outweigh the risks, for us at least,” said Kristin Tellers from Berkeley Hills.


By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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