UC Berkeley chops trees to reduce fire danger

By Kurtis Alexander
Friday September 27, 2002


Following last week’s 10-acre wildfire near the Berkeley-Oakland border, crews are working to douse residents’ anxieties about the fire-prone hills by chopping down trees. 

Four acres of eucalyptus, an invasive and fast-burning tree, are being cleared from UC Berkeley-owned land at the top of Claremont Canyon, about a quarter-mile from the Sept. 20 blaze along the ridgeline.  

If a tree were to start burning, the grove stands amid a funnel of hot easterly winds that could accelerate a fire into a larger blaze, said Tom Klatt, director of emergency planning for the UC Berkeley Police Department. 

“The [current] work is a strategic change in how the forest is going to look,” said Klatt, adding that the new landscape will be less prone to fire. “The benefits will accrue next year and for decades to come.” 

Last week’s fire at Claremont Canyon started when a car caught fire in the area of Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Fish Ranch Roak in Oakland. More than 100 firefighters from seven agencies fought for three hours to contain the blaze.  

No structures were damaged. However, two firefighters suffered minor leg injuries. 

Fire officials say that fire danger remains high.  

“October starts next week. ... That’s the worst of our season,” said David Orth, assistant Berkeley fire chief. 

The Claremont Canyon eucalyptus removal coincides with stepped-up fire monitoring on campus hill property, further vegetation reduction in the Panoramic Hill area and more frequent communication between East Bay fire agencies. 

High fire season will end with the first major rainfall, typically in mid-November, fire officials said.