Evacuees Return Home After Oakland Hills Fire Scorches 22 Acres

A four-alarm fire on Tuesday threatened dozens of residences in the Oakland Hills and prompted the evacuation of more than 100 homes, Cal Fire officials said.

The fire burned 22 acres near Mountain Boulevard and Edwards Avenue. The blaze, first reported around 12:15 p.m., spread rapidly on a steep hill below Campus Drive and then slowed to a moderate rate, fire officials tweeted.

The Alameda County fire is 60 percent contained, interim fire Chief Darin White said at a news conference around 4:15 p.m. Crews, using defensible space, have also halted its forward march, officials said.

All evacuations were lifted late Tuesday, fire officials said.

A four-alarm fire on Tuesday threatened dozens of homes in the Oakland Hills and prompted evacuations, Cal Fire officials said.

While the fire was at its peak, police did not allow residents to enter the upscale neighborhood to make sure their homes and pets were alright. Fire crews parked in driveways to protect the multi-million dollar homes. 

"I'm just a little shaken up right now hoping my home is OK," said Steve Lovato. "We will see what happens."

People who live on Bohansen Road and Ridgemont, Viewcrest, Bayview and Skyview drives were evacuated. Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson is believed to be among those who were removed from their homes.

Oakland Fire Department Deputy Chief Melinda Drayton provides an update on the four-alarm fire burning in the Oakland Hills.

The evacuation order for most of Campus Drive was lifted Tuesday evening, but a part of the street remains blocked. There are multiple fire crews still on scene and officials want to ensure they can easily access the fire and any hot spots. That leaves about 25 to 30 people still displaced.

Merritt College was evacuated, while Community Day School was not. The Oakland Zoo was not among the structures that were evacuated, but officials, out of an abundance of caution, stopped admitting new guests on Tuesday afternoon. People inside the park were told that they could stay or leave at any time.

Edwards and Keller avenue offramps on I-580 were closed — creating a backup on the freeway — and people were asked to avoid the area.

"Stay out of the area," Oakland fire Deputy Chief Melinda Drayton said. "We're trying to get a ton of resources in to help fight this fire."

Brush Fire Breaks Out in Oakland Hills

The blaze quickly jumped from one to five to 10 and then 20 acres in under an hour and was upgraded from two to four alarms in the same time frame. 

NBC Bay Area's SkyRanger captured footage of a thick plume of smoke above the burn scar — visible from nearby I-580 — as well as planes dumping water and fire retardant to suffocate the flames.

Officials said that the steep terrain, rate of spread, flame length and wind conditions were among the challenges firefighters faced. Amid Tuesday's high temperatures, the National Weather Service had issued a Red Flag Warning, meaning the area was threatened by "critical fire weather," Cal Fire said.

More than 300 firefighters rushed in from the air and the ground as wind-driven flames moved toward townhomes in the Monte Vista Villas complex, White said.Oakland firefighters were joined by Cal Fire and Berkeley crews. The East Bay Regional Parks said it contributed a helicopter to help fight the flames. 

Nick Safir, among the people who were displaced Tuesday, said he saw a lot of smoke in the neighborhood and the fire got "really, really close" to some homes. 

Although he was very young at the time of the deadly Oakland Hills firestorm of 1991, Safer said his parents' house was located near the cut-off point and recalled that between 200 and 300 people had gathered on their street. Twenty-five people lost their lives between Oct. 19 and Oct. 20.

"My parents made pasta for everybody," Safir recounted. Having lived through the "really traumatic experience" nearly 28 years ago, "they're not excited to be going through this again," he said. 

NBC Bay Area's Marianne Favro and Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.

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