Engine Companies 8 and 29
Lieutenant Mark S. Kearney commanded San Francisco Engine 8 as part of the first strike team to respond to Oakland. He and his crew reported to the command post along state Highway 24 at 1 p.m.
"Our engine had just pulled up there when," said Lt. Kearney, "a citizen came up to us at the command post and said 'they need all the small line that you can offer.' So we gave him a bundle, and he carried it away to the area of Buena Vista Dr.," where an Oakland engine was at work.
Engine 8 was then directed to the area of Brookside and Buena Vista Dr. for exposure protection.
Lieutenant Kearney said, "When we got there, houses were just going one after the other. The fire was coming down the block at us.
"One entire side of upper Buena Vista was lost," he said. "One house and then another would catch fire because of the severe wind conditions. The embers were catching the neighboring houses on fire, so we had to prioritize where we were going to make our stops.
"We had two supply leads," he said. "One was led into us from [San Francisco Engine] 29 which had taken a red-top hydrant near Brookside and Buena Vista. Our engine was about one-half-block ahead of them up Buena Vista, and there we found another hydrant. The lead extended from Engine 29 to our engine was to increase our pressure.
"We then extended two three-inch lines from our engine, each going a different direction," said Lt. Kearney.
"The first lead from Engine 8 was extended by the whole company farther along Buena Vista Dr., and was dragged over fences and pulled through backyards to prevent the fire from backing down the hill and destroying more structures," he said.
The drive has a steep curve, and this lead was to prevent the fire from crossing the switchback and sweeping down from one part of the street to the other.
"I took the second lead from Engine 8, and led it up lower Buena Vista. At first I dragged the big line by myself," Lt. Kearney said, "and then a citizen, whose name I don't know, began to help me. A lieutenant from the Oakland Fire Department came along and helped us as we pulled this 400-foot lead directly up the hill from our engine."
This lead was necessary to protect exposures from nearby structures that were already fully involved in fire. This detail took almost two hours. Later, a group of firefighters from Oakland showed up to assist.
"I let Oakland take over," said Lt. Kearney, "then I went back to my company to help them. They were just stopping the fire from jumping the switchback. We made two stops; one up the street on Buena Vista and one along the hillside behind the backyards."
After the fire was contained, the 400-foot three-inch line from Engine 8 was converted to a supply lead for an Oakland engine's Multiversal operating farther along Buena Vista Dr.
The crew of Engine 8 then picked up all its hose, leaving the one three-inch line for the Oakland supply, and was then detailed to operations at Broadway St. and Ocean View Dr.
"We then contacted Battalion Chief Tracey for another assignment," he said. "We were instructed to meet up with Hose Tender 8 at Ocean View and Broadway to assist laying out a five-inch hose line and the portable hydrant system."