Berkeley Wildfire Guide

By Kate Rauch and Brian Krans

Preparation advice, evacuation guidance and answers to your questions about air quality, power outages and defending your property

The threat of catastrophic wildfire is nothing new in the Berkeley Hills. But hotter, drier weather linked to climate change means fires are more common and more destructive. Berkeleyside has created this guide to help you 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 (1610 AM), TV and Nixle alerts for updated information.

The Berkeley Fire Department declares Extreme Fire Weather due to forecasted high winds and low humidity on the highest-risk Red Flag days. Since 1991, it says, every major fire threatening the East Bay has started under these conditions. During Extreme Fire Weather, Berkeley Fire strongly recommends you leave the hills — even before a fire starts.

If you see something that’s missing, outdated or inaccurate in this guide, or have a question that hasn’t been answered, please email us at [email protected].

Active Fires

Evacuation zones

Real-time weather

Fire danger

Power outages

The Berkeley Wildfire Guide is a collaboration between Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. The guide — first published on July 29, 2021, and last updated on June 7, 2022 — was written by Kate Darby Rauch and Brian Krans, edited by Zac Farber and Jacob Simas, designed by Doug Ng and illustrated by T.L. Simons. You can read a version of the guide tailored for Oakland residents on The Oaklandside.

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 from trusted sources. 

Sources used in compiling this guide: CalFireBerkeley Fire DepartmentOakland Fire DepartmentFEMAAlameda County Fire DepartmentU.S. Forest ServiceNational Interagency Fire CenterNational Wildfire Coordinating GroupU.S. Department of AgricultureNational Weather ServiceNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationCenters for Disease ControlPacific Gas & ElectricEast Bay Municipal Utility DistrictEast Bay Regional Park DistrictCalifornia Fire Safe CouncilGovernor’s Office of Emergency ServicesCommunity Emergency Alert TeamsState Council on Developmental DisabilitiesUniversity of California Cooperative ExtensionOakland Animal ServicesBerkeley Disaster Preparedness Neighborhood NetworkHills Emergency ForumAlameda County Office of Emergency ServicesOakland Firesafe CouncilDiablo Firesafe CouncilFIRESafe MarinPublic Health InstituteCalifornia Air Resources BoardBay Area Air Quality Management DistrictAmerican Red CrossKaiser PermanenteMask OaklandZonehavenALERTWildfireCity of Mill ValleyCity 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.

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