Firefighters Contain Oakland Hills, California Wildfire

OAKLAND, Calif. -- More than 100 firefighters stopped the spread of a wildfire in Oakland Hills early today after the blaze ravaged as many as 10 acres of UC property.

For other families, Thursday's return was a sense of relief. Jill Boan said when she ran to her parent's Loomis home, firefighters and neighbors said there was no chance of saving it.

The fire began about 9:25 p.m. on Claremont Avenue yesterday when a burning pickup truck sent flames up a hillside toward Grizzly Peak Boulevard.

About 25 fire engines from Berkeley, Oakland and other Bay Area fire departments responded to the fire and moved quickly to surround it.

The blaze was contained at 12:15 a.m., but firefighters will remain at the scene for as many as three days to completely extinguish it, said Oakland fire Battalion Chief James Williams.

No homes or structures were damaged and no residents were evacuated because the fire was confined to uninhabited wildland. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

Still, some residents said the fire reminded them of the 1991 Oakland-Berkeley Hills fire.

"I lost my home in the (1991) fire," said Oakland resident Jack Knowles. "These things get out of hand really fast."

Williams said the fire burned between five and 10 acres. The final total will not be determined until daylight, he said.

While investigators concluded the fire was started by the burning pickup truck, they are not sure if it was accidental.

Mike Dolan, an Oakland fire arson investigator, said a person was being investigated in connection to the car. He said it is not clear if the individual was a witness or involved with the truck.

The Berkeley Fire Department, which sent three fire companies to the blaze, used for the first time a foam mixture similar to soap and water to help contain the fire.

Firefighters doused the engulfed hillside from Grizzly Peak Boulevard with the foam, stopping the fire from climbing further up, said Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief David Orth.

The mixture was blown though a a fan to expand to a foam 800 times its original size, which Orth compared to "a bubble bath."

Berkeley firefighters had only previously tested the technique on a driveway.

"It worked great," Orth said.

The UC-owned land on which the fired burned is used for ecological study.

Yesterday was deemed an "extreme fire danger day" because of the dry air, hot temperatures, and gusty wind.