Today at Berkeley Lab

Be Prepared, Stay Safe in the Event of Wildfire on the Hill

Given the Lab’s location and variabilities in wind speed and direction, there is no one-size-fits-all plan in the event of a wildfire, says Lab Fire Marshal Todd LaBerge. Instead, he stresses being prepared and knowing what the Lab has set in place to protect employees. Evacuating may be your first instinct, says LaBerge, but it’s likely staying put would be a safer idea. Learn more in the first in our series of articles on how to stay safe during Lab emergencies. More>

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  1. Todd LaBerge says:

    Hi Howard,

    Thanks for your thoughts and input. LBNL cannot do vegetation removal outside of our property line. That said, we do partner with UC Berkeley and the East Bay Regional Parks District to establish a joint strategy on vegetation management in our collective area boundaries. LBNL also belongs to the Hills Emergency Forum (HEF), which has just been awarded over $3 million from CalFIRE to do additional vegetation management in the very areas you mention. Further, UC Berkeley has been engaged in funding acquisition to manage and reduce over 400 eucalyptus trees along the upper reaches of Centennial Road. Lastly, due to a few endangered species that inhabit the area, any ground fuel removal has to be conducted in accordance with the various laws that apply to endangered species.

    As an aside, last year’s fire on August 2nd actually occurred well below Grizzly Peak Blvd., off of the Upper Jonas trail (where it was intentionally set) and followed the terrain upward to where the various responding agencies made their stand and extinguished the fire. The fire, which was intentionally set, did not ignite along Grizzly Peak Blvd.

  2. Howard Matis says:

    One important thing that the laboratory can do to protect itself is make sure all the vegetation along Grizzly Peak Blvd is cleared. That is where last year’s fire arose. A lit match, a thrown cigarette, or a spark from a flat tire could set the hills ablaze. This area is full of flammable eucalyptus leaves and other debris that should be removed.

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