Temps put firefighters on alert for East Bay Hills danger

- In the Oakland Hills, the disastrous 1991 fire that destroyed 3,000 homes has firefighters acting pro-actively against this current Bay Area heat wave's hot and dry conditions.

Crews are on alert, but say it takes teamwork with residents to prevent wildfires. They are talking to residents and looking for signs of danger.

Firefighters from Station 28 took KTVU along as they went on patrol Friday. As day turned to night, a light breeze picked up in the Oakland Hills. 

Crews were out looking for any sign of fire hazards. They say the long drought, followed by last winter's heavy rain, leaves the hills vulnerable on hot days.

"As the fuel dries out, the risk of fire increases," says Lt. Curtis Thompson with Oakland Fire Department 

The fire crew visited a homeowner whose property borders a fire access road behind the Oakland Zoo. Ryan Maas says a year ago, a vegetation fire broke out just steps from his family home.

"The flames got as high as this bush, When I saw that fire, I ran out," says Maas.  

He  describes the close call as life changing. He's grateful that firefighters saved his home that day. On this hot day with the sun glaring down, he's thankful that the open area next door has been maintained properly.

Lt. Thompson says says hundreds of goats were used to eat the vegetation to reduce the fire risk.

He says this holiday weekend increases the potential for fire.

"A lot of people are at home enjoying barbecues, doing home improvement projects and compound that with the extreme heat that we're experiencing here in the Bay Area in the Oakland Hills, that can compound the risk for a significant wild land fire," says Lt. Thompson. 

"I got really scared and told my mom there was a fire.  We had to rush out," says Irene Chan whose family  survived the Oakland Hills firestorm. .

She tells KTVU her memories of the 1991 Oakland Hills  firestorm are still vivid. Chan was a young child when her family lost their home on Hiller.

She says it took seven years to rebuild. These weather conditions are a reminder to be vigilant. 

"I'm pretty concerned. It gets pretty hot up here," says Chan. She says she'll never forget the neighbors and firefighters who lost their lives," I'll always remember it.  I'll remember it forever."  

Crews say they'll be on patrol through the holiday weekend.

They'll be keeping a close eye on the hot temperatures and the wind.

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