Grizzly Peak Blvd. closed to bikes, cars and pedestrians for July 4 weekend to prevent fires

Grizzly Peak Boulevard will be closed between Skyline Boulevard in Oakland and Centennial Drive in Berkeley for 24 hours starting at 5 a.m. Saturday due to fire danger and to ensure emergency access, Oakland fire officials said.

There have been five vegetation fires along the road in Oakland since June 1, at least one caused by illegal fireworks, Oakland fire spokesman Michael Hunt said.

The boulevard will be closed to all vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

"We want to take every precaution necessary to protect life and property," Hunt said. 

The closure in Oakland is a pilot program, he said, and was prompted by heavy traffic on the Oakland end of Grizzly Peak over the years when Berkeley has closed its stretch of the road.

When people double park along the boulevard, it is hard for first responders to get through. In one instance it took firefighters 30 minutes to go three miles on Grizzly Peak, Hunt said.

"Every delay can cost lives," he said. A portion of the road closure is just east of where the 1991 Oakland Hills Firestorm started in the backyard of a house on Buckingham Boulevard.

That fire killed 25 people and consumed nearly 3,500 houses and apartment units, East Bay Regional Park District officials said.