Posted in History, Oakland

Leona Canyon Fire – Oct 1960

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

On Saturday October 15, 1960 a brush fire started in the area of Mountain Blvd and Burckhalter Avenue.

The fire bore a striking resemblance to the disastrous 1923 Berkeley fire which swept from the hills, destroyed 600 buildings and leaving 4000 homeless.

Oakland Tribune Oct 16, 1960

The fire started at 11am and was under control by 2:30 pm and officially out by 4pm.

Oakland Tribune Oct 16, 1960

More than 200 firemen from the Oakland and San Leandro fought the fire for over four hours with the help of the residents who lived in the area. At times the fire came within feet of homes and rained sparks on their roofs. The damage was held to the loss of two homes, brush and oak trees.

From noon until 2pm the battle was a see-saw affair

Oakland Tribune October 16, 1960

Weekend Warriors

SF Examiner Oct 16, 1960

For the residents it was a battle to the death. They stood of roofs and garages pointing hoses with little pressure behind them at the walls of flame which roared through the brush and oak trees.

In the hills above Leona Street flames roared 50 feet into the air and came within that distance of homes. At one point police advised people advised the residents on Leona Street, Mountain Blvd and Mountain View Avenue to evacuate.

Cause Unknown

Oakland Tribune Oct 16, 1960

The cause of the fire was unknown. It ranged over an estimated 1200 acres after it’s start near Mountain Blvd and Burckhalter Avenue. It’s course along Mountain Blvd north westerly to Bermuda Avenue and up the hill towards Skyline Blvd.

There were unconfirmed reports of two boys playing with matches in the quarry area just before the fire started.

Oakland Tribune Oct 16, 1960

At time the winds gusted 45 mile-per-hour which spread the fire across Mountain Blvd. but quick work by firemen and homeowners stopped the fire from spreading in that direction.

More than 100 homes were endangered during the day. Most were in the $30,000 brackett.

The Homes

  • 6384 Mountain Blvd – destroyed
  • 6434 Mountain Blvd – destroyed

The home at 6434 Mountain Blvd belonged to William Crecque and 6384 Mountain Blvd belonged to Charles Suggs.

More

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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