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Oakland Hills Fire: What Do You Remember?

The blaze killed 25 people, scorched 1,520 acres and destroyed or damaged 3,469 homes and apartments

Oakland Hills Fire: What Do You Remember?

Where were you 20 years ago?

If you were in the Bay Area, you most certainly remember the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

The blaze, with its ominous black cloud blanketing the East Bay, officially lasted for four days, from Saturday, Oct. 19, when it first ignited as a seemingly routine grass fire, to Wednesday, Oct. 23, when it was officially declared extinguished.

The most destructive day was Sunday, Oct. 20, when the fire reignited in a valley just north of Highway 24 and just west of the Caldecott Tunnel.

In the first hour of its fury, the fire torched 790 homes, igniting a house every 11 seconds.

The flames, reaching 100 feet in height, killed 25 people while scorching 1,520 acres in the hills of Oakland on both sides of Highway 24.

It destroyed or damaged 3,469 structures, mostly in the Hiller Highlands, Montclair and Piedmont neighborhoods. Of those destroyed, 2,843 were single-family homes. Also destroyed were 2,000 vehicles. And more than 5,100 people were left homeless.

It also scorched the memories of those who saw it.

What do you remember from that day? Are you a survivor? How was your life changed by the fire? Share your remembrances with us in the comments section.

You can also find more photos and recollections of the fire on oaklandnet.com, a website for Oakland residents, as well as stories in the San Jose Mercury News.

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