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 volunteering or by sharing your story.
In addition to the online collection, we are also organizing an in-person event for the community on Sunday, October 17, at Lake Temescal. Read more here and come out and celebrate with us.
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)
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.
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.
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