Berkeley residents prepare for wildfires with evacuation drill

Residents in the Berkeley's Southeast hills took part in an evacuation drill in the case of a wildfire. Fire officials say about 45 people participated, along with firefighters, police, paramedics, other emergency responders and city agencies.

"I think it's a great idea," said Jianne Gimian, who lives in the Elmwood neighborhood. "I think we are really primed for ‘what if' and knowing what to do if we have an emergency is going to be so helpful for us. I lived here during the Oakland hills fire and I remember what an emergency is like and I would like to be better prepared next time."

At 9 a.m. people received a text message alerting them to an "emergency" with directions where to go.

First responders drove into the narrow windy hills during the drill to alert residents and even drove around with a mobile loudspeaker - a new device for the police department.

"They're called LRAD's." said Berkeley Fire Chief David Brannigan.  "Long range acoustic devices. And they're designed to penetrate structures and maintain clarity even in challenging situations like this."

Brannigan said the biggest lesson learned from the firestorm of 1991 is to have a more clear direction of how to get out.

"The public needs to understand what that's going to take," said Brannigan. "It can't just be cars. You have to know how to get out on foot, on wheelchair on bicycle because those streets could be clogged and the fire can burn over very easily."​​​​​​