Posted in History, Montclair, Oakland

1937 Fire – Upper Broadway Terrace

A brush and timber fire that destroyed at least four Oakland hill area homes and menaced at least 50 more burned in the area of Pine Needle Road and Upper Broadway Terrace and came close to the buildings of the new Broadway Low-Level tunnel (Caldicott Tunnel). This was on September 25, 1937.

Oakland Tribune Sep 26, 1937

The photo below was taken at the hight of the blaze but before the fire jumped Tunnel Road.

Families Flee

Scores of families fled their homes in fear; others who sought to save the belongings were ordered out by fireman.

Mrs. G.H. Cowles with Eunice and Hazel Cowles
of 6142 Pinewood Road
The W.R Powers Family lost their home at 6142 Ruthland Road.
Edith Thorpe 6, holds her pet Rhode Island Red Hen

Burned Area

The fire started close to the home of Police inspector Jesse Jackson at 6019 Pinewood Road at around 3 pm September 25, 1937. During the first six hours, the fire had burned across the western edge of the Pinehaven district up Broadway Terrace to a point just below Skyline Blvd. and back down another canyon to the west.

Oakland Tribune Sept 26, 1937

The fire chief estimated the fire burned over 9 square miles of rolling hill county.

Oakland Tribune Sept 26, 1937

Hose lines Burned

Several hundred feet of hose laid across brushy areas to link the pumps to the fire area were destroyed by flames. Lack of water was a problem, they had used up all the water in reservoirs in the immediate area.

Eyewitness Accounts

C.F. Humphrey – 13025 Broadway Terrace

Mrs. Marguerite Risley – 6493 Farralone Way

Homes Lost or Damaged

  • 15030 Broadway Terrace – Ted Gould – gone
  • 16060 Broadway Terrace – S. Albright – damaged
  • 17014 Broadway Terrace – Ed Pohley – damaged
  • 17044 Broadway Terrace – S. Sund – damaged
  • 17050 Broadway Terrace – S.C. Purser – damaged
  • 6539 Gwin Road – V. Sagues -damaged
  • 6142 Pinewood Road – G. H. Cowles – damaged
  • 6142 Ruthland – W.R. Powers – gone
The Press Democrat Sep 26. 1937

Fire Started –

The fire started when a “backyard bonfire” got out of control.

1929 Fire

There was a fire in November of 1929 in just about the same area. Some of the same homes were damaged then. The W.R. Powers home was saved in 1929 only to burn down in 1937.

Oakland Tribune Nov 15, 1929
Oakland Tribune Nov 15, 1929

1933 Fire

The was a fire in 1933 with the loss of one home at 7135 Pinehaven Road.

1930 Directory
Oakland Tribune Oct 23 1933

The End

Author:

I have been an Oakland history buff since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland, in the mid-80's. On that tour, I learned that there use to be a train (Sacramento Northern) that ran through Montclair, in the early 1900's and that people lived the area as early as 1860's. I have been hooked ever since. Since then I have spent a lot of time looking into the history of Montclair and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.

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