Oakland Wildfire Guide
By Brian Krans and Kate Darby Rauch
Everything you need to know about evacuation, preparation, air quality, power outages, protecting property, and more answers to your questions about wildfire season.
The threat of catastrophic wildfire is nothing new in the Oakland Hills. But hotter, drier weather linked to climate change means fires are more common and more destructive. The Oaklandside has created this guide to help us all do what we can to prepare, stay informed and keep safe during fire season.
Do not rely on this guide during an emergency. In an emergency, follow the instructions of AC Alerts, look up your evacuation zone number and stay tuned to local radio (KCBS 740 AM, KGO 810 AM, or KNBR 680 AM), TV, and Nixle alerts for updated information.
If you see something that’s missing, outdated, or inaccurate in this guide, or have a question that hasn’t been answered, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The big picture
- How to live with the threat of wildfires?
- How at-risk is the urban East Bay to wildland fire?
- What’s the history of wildfires in Oakland?
- What’s being done to reduce the risk of wildfires in Oakland?
- What constitutes dangerous activity during fire season and how should I report it?
- Which apps and websites can help me during a wildfire?
- How do I prepare to evacuate my home?
- What is a ‘go bag’ and how do I make one?
- What should be in my ‘go bag’?
- How can seniors and people with disabilities prepare for wildfires?
- What if I’m unhoused or know people who are in my area?
- How should I prepare to evacuate my pets?
- How can I volunteer to help with others’ wildfire needs?
- How will I know when to evacuate?
- Who will most likely have to evacuate?
- I’ve been ordered to evacuate. What should I do?
- What does a Red Flag Warning mean?
- What are the dangers of Diablo winds?
- When should I preemptively relocate during fire season?
- Who will be there to help during and after a wildfire?
- What do wildfires have to do with air pollution? How do distant fires cause pollution in the Bay Area?
- How bad is wildfire smoke for my health?
- I’ve had COVID-19. What do I need to know about wildfire smoke?
- How can I protect myself from wildfire smoke? When do I need to wear a mask or stay indoors?
- Which masks best protect against wildfire smoke?
- How can I reduce the impact of wildfire smoke inside of my home?
- How can I monitor air quality in my neighborhood?
- How do I protect my property against wildfire?
- Do defensible space regulations apply to my property?
- What help is available if I can’t afford the high costs of fire prevention?
- I rent. What should I know about wildfire safety?
- Should I use sprinklers or hose down my yard or deck during a fire? (No!)
- My fire insurance was canceled. What should I do?
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Latest wildfire stories
Cause of last night’s Oakland hills fire: a burning truck on I-580
The third fire in three weeks on the busy highway briefly spread toward homes until it was extinguished.
3 big studies on East Bay’s creatures, plants and wildfire risk
A first-of-its-kind analysis looked at the health of East Bay wildlife, from bats to bobcats and salamanders to steelhead. Two major mapping projects will dive deep into vegetation and wildfire hazard.
How do you prepare for wildfires in Oakland? Get answers in our guide
We’ve updated our Oakland Wildfire Guide with preparation advice, evacuation guidance, and answers to your questions about air quality, power outages, and property defense.
Oakland City Hall in conversation: Sheng Thao
The District 4 representative, who is running for mayor, talks wildfire safety, affordable housing, and Howard Terminal.
This wildfire guide is a collaboration between The Oaklandside and Berkeleyside. It was written by Kate Darby Rauch and Brian Krans, edited by Zac Farber and Jacob Simas, illustrated by T.L. Simons, and designed by Doug Ng. You can read a version of the guide tailored for Berkeley residents on Berkeleyside.
Information overload can be an issue as you plan for emergencies. That’s why we’ve compared information and vetted sources for you, with the aim of providing only credible and recent information.
Sources used in compiling this guide include: CalFire, Berkeley Fire Department, Oakland Fire Department, FEMA, Alameda County Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, National Interagency Fire Center, National Wildfire Coordinating Group, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Centers for Disease Control, Pacific Gas & Electric, East Bay Municipal Utility District, East Bay Regional Park District, California Fire Safe Council, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Community Emergency Alert Teams, State Council on Developmental Disabilities, University of California Cooperative Extension, Oakland Animal Services, Berkeley Disaster Preparedness Neighborhood Network, Alameda County Office of Emergency Services, Oakland Firesafe Council, Diablo Firesafe Council, FIRESafe Marin, Public Health Institute, California Air Resources Board, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, American Red Cross, Zonehaven, ALERTWildfire, City of Mill Valley, City of Ross
The image illustrating defensible space in the property section of this guide is adapted from the Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide (publication #SP-20-11) with permission from University of Nevada, Reno Extension and the Living With Fire Program.