1991 Oakland Hills Fireplace Recalled

People gathered at the Rockridge BART station in Oakland on Sunday, October 9, 2016 for a memorial and dedication ceremony for plaques commemorating the 25th anniversary of the 1991 Oakland / Berkeley firestorm. Grace Crunican, general manager of BART, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf unveiled a new plaque with the names of the 25 people who lost their lives in the tragedy that destroyed 3,300 homes.

Teresa Deloach Reed, chief of the Oakland Fire Department, and Gil Dong, chief of the Berkeley Fire Department, read the names of the victims when Lt. Kevin Franklin of the BART Police rang a bell for each one. Rachel Lomax, 29, from Oakland shared her memories as a four-year-old during the firestorm. Lomax recalls how her cat was rescued from a tree, lost her teddy bear collection in the fire, and her mother washed ash from her hair. Speaking at the event, Lomax told the crowd that her decision to become a nurse was due in part to her experience 25 years ago when her family home was destroyed in the firestorm. Visitors to the event were encouraged to look at the hand-painted ceramic tiles on the surrounding walls that illustrate people’s memories of the tragic event.

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