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Flame and Fortune in the American WestUrban Development, Environmental Change, and the Great Oakland Hills Fire$
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Gregory L. Simon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292802

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292802.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Flame and Fortune in the American West

Gregory L. Simon

University of California Press

This introductory chapter presents the author's recollections about the fire that almost burned down his childhood home when he was sixteen. He was home alone when he heard a policeman outside the house asking residents to evacuate. He describes seeing his neighbors' homes became the source of smoke and embers dropping in their backyards. He returns to his house to pick up his cat, gets in the car, and leaves. Returning home with his parents the next day, they find that their home remained fully intact alongside a neighbor to each side. While he was overjoyed to see the structure and all their possessions in one piece, this euphoria was quickly lost to the sight of smoldering ruins all around, including their neighbors' and friends' homes. In retrospect, he concludes that given the day's conditions and the previous century of extensive residential development, the outcome of the 1991 Tunnel Fire was both unsurprising and inevitable.

Keywords:   Oakland Hills Tunnel Fire, family home, residential development, wildfires

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