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Still shaken by 1991 firestorm’s fury, a fire captain returns

on October 28, 2008

Audio interview and photo gallery by LINNEA EDMEIER

Oct. 25–Seventeen years after the devastating Oakland Berkeley Hills Fire, retired Fire Captain Wayne Drager returned this month to the fire scene.  In 1991, Drager, as he is known, was the captain of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Alma Helitack crew aboard Copter 106. They were the first firefighting resource to arrive in the air.  Once on the ground, Drager and his crew would spend the day on foot, separated from the incident commanders.  Lack of radio communications combined with the ferocity of the wind-driven fire made the Oakland Berkeley Hills fire a scene of chaos.

Linnea Edmeier, who spent 17 years as a firefighter before turning to journalism, listens in this interview as her former colleague tells her how hard he and others tried that day to save both neighborhoods and lives in the ridge-top neighborhood where Alvarado Road meets Amito Drive.


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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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