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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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Producing Landscapes, Extracting Profits, Inserting Risk

(p.55) 3 Trailblazing
Flame and Fortune in the American West

Gregory L. Simon

University of California Press

This chapter illuminates how the production of vulnerability proceeds through—and is supported by—interconnected economic development and resource use activities across city and regional scales. It explores the connection between lucrative resource extraction, realty speculation, reforestation, and home construction activities in the Tunnel Fire area. These Oakland Hills Tunnel Fire activities and resulting forms of vulnerability are linked to the development of the San Francisco Bay Area. The historically resource-rich Oakland Hills “countryside” played a crucial role in shaping and facilitating San Francisco's post-Gold Rush economic ascendance. These resource-provisioning activities generated roadways that several decades later fell under the speculative eye of housing developers in search of suburban homes and vacation retreats for the region's new elite. This transition from resource extraction to real estate speculation was instantiated in the landscape, as several logging paths in Oakland became arterial roads populated by municipal infrastructure, flammable tree cover, and eventually a vast collection of new home developments in high fire risk areas.

Keywords:   San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland Hills Tunnel Fire, urban wildfires, fire risk, resource extraction, realty speculation, reforestation, home construction

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