Fire in Oakland hills being investigated as possible arson

- The Grizzly Peak Fire burning in the Berkeley and Oakland hills is being investigated as a possible arson, Cal Fire and the Oakland Fire Department confirmed Thursday afternoon.

The fire was 90 percent contained on Friday night, and residents who live in the area - and remember the deadly and devastating 1991 fire - were grateful that this blaze did not get out of hand.

"God bless our firefighters, our unsung heroes," Ernesto Bert Bautista wrote on KTVU's Facebok page. "We can't thank you enough."

Sarah Mills added: "Thank  you so much. Also thank you to the helicopters dipping buckets into Lake Anza and sprinkling our house."

At a news conference early Thursday, Oakland Fire Engineer Charleton Lightfoot said that the 20-acre fire was 50 percent contained and was still considered "active." One CalFire inmate  member was slightly injured, he said, while falling down a hill.

"We have a good handle on this incident," Lightfoot said. Firefighters said they hoped the blaze would be mopped up by 8 p.m. Thursday.

Earlier, however, an Oakland fire official told KTVU about 6 a.m. that the fire was out, but that firefighters would stay on scene throughout the day to monitor hot spots. Lightfoot did clarify that the fire hadn't spread at all and that a fire isn't really "out" until firefighters leave the scene. Grizzly Peak Boulevard between South Park Road and Centennial near the Berkeley Steam Trains will remain closed throughout Thursday.

The Grizzly Peak fire broke out on Wednesday about 1 p.m. above the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The fire touched parts of Oakland, Berkeley and Contra Costa County. There were no reports of damage.

But smoke and flames this area spark bad memories for those who live in this hilly and often dry part of town.  In 1991, a massive blaze broke out in the hillsides of Oakland and Berkeley, killing 25 and injuring 150. The fire also ravaged 1,520 acres and destroyed more than 3,000 homes and apartments.

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