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The City of Berkeley Health Officer has ordered all residents to shelter at home, leaving only to receive or provide essential services, starting 12:01 am on Tuesday, March 17. See details of the Order, frequently asked questions, and recommendations from Berkeley Public Health at https://www.cityofberkeley.info/coronavirus.

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The City of Berkeley web site is undergoing scheduled maintenance starting on Friday night, September 13 and ending on Saturday afternoon, September 14. During this time, most web pages should be available, but some resources may become unavailable for short periods of time.

Looking for a live stream of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) meeting on 5/9/19, at 7:00pm? Please visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1UAnZ8kU8EWllREyOY7rwQ/. The normal viewing methods will not work this time due to a concurrent City Council Special Meeting at the same time.

Looking for a live stream of the Zoning Adjustments Board (ZAB) meeting on 2/28/19, from 6:00 to 11:00 PM? Please visit http://www.cityofberkeley.info/Clerk/Commissions/Zoning_Adjustment_Board_Meeting_-_Video_Stream.aspx. The normal viewing methods will not work this time due to a concurrent City Council Special Meeting at the same date and time.

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PREPARE NOW FOR FIRE SEASON: BERKELEY FIRE DEPARTMENT RECOMMENDS HILLS RESIDENTS PLAN TO STAY ELSEWHERE DURING “EXTREME FIRE WEATHER”
With wildfires more frequent, destructive, and fast-moving than ever, we all must change how we prepare and respond

Berkeley, California (Tuesday, August 03, 2021) - As wildfires become more frequent and severe, Berkeley hills residents should learn key fire weather terms, sign up for emergency notifications, look up their evacuation zone, and make plans to leave during extreme fire weather.

During "Extreme Fire Weather" - rare periods of extremely low humidity and high winds defined by Berkeley Fire Department - residents living in hillside fire zones are advised to make plans to stay elsewhere.

These hot and dry "Extreme Fire Conditions" allow fire to easily ignite and rapidly spread, posing particular risk to those in Berkeley fire zones 2 and 3, areas close to regional parklands.

Evolving fire threat demands a different type of response

Severe fire weather conditions are now more common and as a result, so are catastrophic wind-driven fires. Of the top 5 most destructive wildfires in California's history, four happened during 2020.

With each wildfire, we learn more about how our response must adapt. One key lesson is that all of us, not just emergency responders, must act based on weather conditions rather than waiting for a fire to ignite.

A wildfire driven by hot, dry "Diablo" winds can spread so quickly that even those who have taken all the traditional steps to prepare may not have time to evacuate safely once a fire starts.

In these extreme wind-driven fires, there may not be time for traditional notifications for evacuation advisories and warnings. Instead, the first alert you receive may be an order to immediately evacuate.

The most dangerous fire weather conditions are predictable and rare

The Berkeley Fire Department has identified the types of very dry, windy conditions that create "Extreme Fire Weather."

Fires that spread during Extreme Fire Weather conditions can quickly become catastrophic. The 1991 Oakland/Berkeley hills fire, as well as most of California's recent firestorms, ignited when conditions were within Berkeley's "Extreme Fire Weather" thresholds.

Red Flag vs. Extreme Fire Weather

The National Weather Service declares a "Red Flag Warning" when regional forecasts show elevated fire risk conditions. The Berkeley Fire Department follows up on "Red Flag Warnings" and requests a "spot forecast" for specific Berkeley locations to help pinpoint the level of local threat to our community.

For an in-depth look at how weather conditions translate to fire risk, watch our video, Fire weather in Berkeley: Red Flag Warnings, Extreme Fire Weather, and when to leave the hills.

Red Flag graph with humidity

Extreme Fire Weather is far more rare than Red Flag Warnings. In 2020, Berkeley had 25 days of Red Flag conditions, but only 2 days of Extreme Fire Weather.

Hills residents should stay on heightened alert during every Red Flag Warning:

  • Keep your phone on and with you at all times
  • avoid activities that could cause a spark
  • be prepared to rapidly evacuate if necessary

We send AC Alert notifications over email and the Everbridge mobile app for every Red Flag Warning affecting Berkeley. We also post notices on our website and social media.

When spot forecasts predict local "Extreme Fire Weather" conditions, we activate our Emergency Operations Center and increase fire responders, fire apparatus, police and fire patrols in the hills. These increased staff patrol to identify fires or risky activities, as well as to provide additional law enforcement presence while homes are unoccupied. We also keep the community up-to-date with AC Alert notifications over phone and text in addition to email and the Everbridge app.

Make a plan to leave the hills during Extreme Fire Weather

The Berkeley Fire Department recommends residents make plans to leave the hills during periods of Extreme Fire Weather. This puts you in the most control and is the best way to ensure your safety.

The narrow, winding street network in the Berkeley hills – combined with the rapid fire spread likely in these conditions – means that driving in a car during an immediate evacuation won’t be an option for everyone.

The decision of “when to leave” is personal to each household. Understand that the longer you wait, you will need to be ready to leave on foot. If that poses a problem for anyone in your home, it’s safest to stay outside of the hills in these “Extreme Fire Weather” conditions. 
 Fire Weather Arrove Red Flag to Evacuation

Whether you plan to leave during Extreme Fire Weather or wait until after a fire ignites, think ahead of time about where you'll go when you leave. Talk to friends and family who you might be able to stay with, or start putting aside money now to stay in a hotel. In an evacuation, we will set up mass care sites for people who have no place to go, but these will take time to set up and will rarely be your most comfortable option.

Use our fire weather planning tool and step-by-step video guide to make a fire weather plan for your household.

More steps to prepare your household for wildfires

Planning to leave the hills during Extreme Fire Weather is only one part of taking control. Everyone should:

  • Know your evacuation zone: Review  community.zonehaven.com now and bookmark the site on your computer and phone to find real-time updates during a fire.
  • Sign up for emergency notifications: Sign up at acalert.org to receive emergency alerts from Berkeley and Alameda County.
  • Make a household fire weather plan: Decide ahead of time what steps your household will take during Red Flag Warnings and Extreme Fire Weather. For hills residents, this means identifying your trigger for leaving. Use our fire weather planning tool and step-by-step video guide to create your plan.
  • Take steps to improve your home's chance of surviving a wildfire. Use our vegetation management self-inspection checklist and refer to Cal Fire resources on hardening your home.

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