'Ticking Time Bomb': Extra Fire Patrols Added For East Bay Hills


Police and fire departments are stepping up patrols in the East Bay hills because of extreme fire danger and reported illegal activity.

Neighbors have reported an increase in fires and fireworks at lookout locations, almost a dozen fires alone since June 1. The Berkeley and Oakland hills are described as a "ticking time bomb" when it comes to fire danger.

"It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when," said Michael Hunt of the Oakland Fire Department.

That's why the Oakland Fire Department is joining with several other agencies to patrol along Grizzly Peak Blvd. and Skyline Blvd. looking for any illegal fire activity. The goal is to try and prevent a small fire from becoming a massive inferno like the deadly Oakland Hills fire in 1991.

"We’ll be looking at the evening into the wee hours of the morning," Oakland Police PIO Joanna Watson said. "That’s typically when the activity is reported. That’s going to be seven days a week."

A curfew of 9 p.m. will be enforced at vista points and turnouts.

"Even during the day, make sure there’s no smoking, no fires at all up here during the daytime hours," Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb added. "Rules don’t mean much at all if you’re not enforcing them."

Enforcement will focus on education as opposed to citations.