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Tenth Anniversary Of Oakland Hills Fire

New houses now stand where flames killed 25 people and devoured more than 3,000 homes in the Oakland Hills a decade ago.

The worst urban wild fire in US history started as a trickle of smoke on October 20th, 1991. By the time the blaze was out, the once green and heavily populated hillsides above Highway 24 and the Caldecott Tunnel were a charred and ruined moonscape.

The cost of repairing the damage approached 2 billion dollars. And while lessons were learned, officials say conditions now could result in the same disaster again if fire gets a foothold.

There have been many improvements. More equipment is available. Two new stations have opened in the hills themselves. There´s a high-tech radio system replacing the one in use then, which had only five channels. Trucks now roam the hills during hot weather, training is better and there are additional mutual aid agreements in place.

But East Bay Regional Parks District official Jerry Kent says it´s not enough.

In a report last week, he says fire prevention efforts in some areas are lacking. He says there´s too much flammable vegetation and too many homes with wood shingle roofs. Roads in the area are too narrow, overhead power lines still exist and water pressure varies too much.