BERKELEY, Calif. - Frank Tapia lives up in the Berkeley hills on a narrow road with one way in and one way out. Sunday morning, Tapia packed up his car with his most important items. His neighborhood is expected to lose power for PG&E’s public safety power shutoff. This is also one of the places the city of Berkeley encouraged to pre-evacuate because of wildfire danger.
”I’m going to pack my car, my wife’s going to pack her car. So if we have to leave we are gone,” said Tapia. “If a fire were to happen it would be pretty scary around here.”
Not everyone on his street is leaving. John Stenzel is among a group of hills residents who will stay, and keep an eye on the neighborhood to watch for any hazards like downed trees. They even marked exit routes on the ground in case the road ends up blocked and people are forced evacuate on foot.
“We divvied up the hill and we will stay observant, keep in touch with text and walkie-talkies. If nothing happens great. If they over-forecast this, great. But I’m ready,” said Stenzel. “I’m going to go to Peets get some more coffee and stock up so I can stay up all night.”
Berkeley’s Mayor Jesse Arreguin explained the city took the unprecedented measure of urging some residents to leave their homes because of the severe weather and because they want to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
Arreguin said, “In the event of a fire we don’t want people to get stuck. We don’t want difficulty for people to evacuate.”
He urged people to prepare a go-bag, study evacuation routes, and make sure cell phones are charged. “We wouldn’t take this measure unless we thought there was a real risk to the safety of our community,” said Arreguin.
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District also advised residents in high-risk areas to consider relocating to a safe place ahead of the severe weather event.