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Disastrous Oakland Fire

Under the severe wind and climate conditions, the fire disaster in the Oakland and the Berkeley Hills could not be prevented or extinguished by man with all the modern firefighting equipment and technology available.

However, the breakdown in the water supplied to the fire hydrant system by the East Bay Municipal Utility District might have been mitigated, allowing some homes to be saved if water engineers had read the records of the Bel-Air fire disaster which took place 30 years ago.

Firefighters had no water pressure in hillside mains because power to the electric pumps--similar to the Oakland problem--was cut. Houses burned because firefighters lacked water! The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power installed backup diesel pumps and looped certain lines so that there always could be water in the hillside mains.

Perhaps other water utilities, government agencies and fire departments will study the Oakland problem and look back and learn from this and past incidents such as Bel-Air in a studied effort to mitigate future disasters.

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CLIFF DEKTAR

North Hollywood


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