The Oakland / Berkeley Firestorm is an event that is etched into memory for many Bay Area residents. The community banded together to save lives, structures, and to rebuild. Thirty years later, the neighborhood is coming together to pay tribute to those lives lost, reconnect, and celebrate coming back as a community that can play -and prepare- together.
We welcome you participating in our Community Comeback by sharing your story.
In addition to the online collection, we also organized an in-person event for the community on Sunday, October 17, at Lake Temescal. Read more here and check out our event gallery.
The Community Comeback project has been featured in the news
- Oct 19, 2021, OaklandNorth: ‘This danger is one spark, one gust of wind, away.’ 30 years after tragic fire, Oakland better prepared but more at risk
- Oct 20, 2021, Kron4: Oakland firestorm: Annual tree of hope lighting held in honor of 30th anniversary
- Oct 20, 2021, Mercury News: Photographer’s Diary: Remembering the 1991 firestorm in the Oakland and Berkeley hills 30 years ago today
If you only view one video on this page, take the time to look at Beyond the Ashes—24 minutes of interviews made a few weeks after the 1991 Firestorm and then 10 months later. Produced by Berkeley Mental Health, Beyond the Ashes showcases fire survivors Janine Brown, Mikki and Jerry Baer, David Kessler, Joe Wong and Emeryville firefighter John Havenhill, who share their shock, fears and hopes after the devastation of the 1991 Firestorm. The film was directed and edited by Rosina Linz Berkeley Mental Health, funded by FEMA, California Department of Mental Health and Alta Bates Medical Center, 1992. (24 minutes)
You can also Listen to the podcast from cityside, released with the article Listen: Remembering the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Firestorm. It is a podcast produced to look back at the historic blaze that forever changed how the East Bay looks at wildfires. (30 minutes)
1991 Firestorm Facts
The Oakland / Berkeley Hills Firestorm of 1991 was considered the worst fire in California’s history, holding that status for 26 years.
- 25 people perished
- 2000 vehicles destroyed
- 3500 homes destroyed
- $1.5 billion loss
- 1,800 blackened acres
- Lasted 72 hours
- Flames pushed by 30-50 mph winds
- Equivalent of a 107-alarm fire
- Moved at the rate of 11 football fields a minute
- At its peak, destroyed one home every 11 seconds
- 400 engine companies, 1500 personnel and 250 agencies worked to put out the fire
The Tubbs fire burned 36,807 acres burned, had a loss of 5,636 structures. 22 people perished in the Tubbs fire.
VOLUNTEER CALL TO ACTION
- Learn about NHCA volunteer opportunities
- Be a part of NHCA leadership - join our Board
- Love events? We'd love your help!
- Email NHCA for more details
1991 Firestorm Reflections: Personal Stories
1991 Firestorm Relics
Artifacts that survived the fire, and art that was inspired by it. Click the image to read more or go to our relics page to see them all. New items are added periodically.
Submit Your Story
Please share personal memories of the 1991 Firestorm and its aftermath - lessons learned; how the experience has shaped your life since. We accept photos, video, text, music, art, found objects, poetry and other forms of your firestorm memories - remembrances that changed, or even surprised you.
- Oakland Community Preparedness & Response
- Guides and training for individual and neighborhood emergency preparedness
- Oakland Firesafe Council
- A community-based nonprofit providing education and advocacy on wildfire prevention for Alameda County
- Ready Oakland
- Links to City of Oakland CERT Training and other emergency services for the public
- East Bay Wildfire JPA
- Updates on a community effort to establish a regional wildfire prevention joint powers authority for Alameda and West Contra Costa counties and cities located in the wildland urban interface
- Diablo Firesafe Council
- A resource for homeowner vegetation management grants and more
- Updates on location of latest wildfires and more
Firestorm resources from around the web
- Special Report form 1994: Oakland Firestorm Wall
- Local Emmys Award nominated news report from KRON-TV, produced and directed by Gary Mercer, featuring the Firestorm Community Mural at Rockridge BART station in Oakland, which commemorates the lives of people affected by the fire.
- Response and Recovery: The Aftermath of the Oakland Fire
- A short video highlighting the Oakland Public Works Department's response to the 1991 Firestorm
- Oakland Public Library Historical Room
- Resource for books, articles, videos and artifacts about the 1991 Firestorm, located at the main branch, 125 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612
- The Oakland Firestorm Wall
- "Local Emmys Award nominated news report from KRON-TV, produced and directed by Gary Mercer, featuring the Firestorm Community Mural at Rockridge BART station in Oakland, which commemorates the lives of people affected by the Oakland Hills Fire of October 20th 1991."
- East Bay Yesterday: A Home Burned Every 11 Seconds
- Podcast episode and pictures from East Bay Yesterday
Read and Listen to more stories
Your Stories: in addition to video reflections and relics, NHCA welcomes your firestorm remembrances, no matter the format – audio, document, photo, video.
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