Grizzly Fire at Berkeley Hills no longer actively burning

Bobby Lee/Staff

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The Grizzly Fire, which started Wednesday afternoon at the intersection of Grizzly Peak Boulevard and Fish Ranch Road in the Berkeley Hills, is no longer actively burning, according to Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Melinda Drayton.

Drayton said as of Sunday afternoon, the Grizzly Fire was 90 percent contained with no active hotspots. She added that the East Bay Regional Park District Fire Department and OFD are currently on patrol and stopping by throughout the day to check the area, but there are no other firefighters on the scene.

East Bay Regional Park District Fire Department Interim Fire Chief John Swanson said the only damage was to nearby brush and grass. Grizzly Peak has eucalyptus trees and vegetation that were thinned before the fire, according to Swanson, causing minimal damage to the trees.

“The grass will grow back next year, the brush will be back in a year or two and the stand of trees will hardly look any different than they did before the fire,” Swanson said.

OFD will take one final patrol Monday, according to Drayton, and expects the fire to be fully contained by tomorrow.

UCPD Sgt. Bill Kasiske said Friday there were no updates to the ongoing investigation for determining the cause of the Grizzly Fire. UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich told The Daily Californian in an email Thursday that UCPD was investigating the hills fire as a potential arson.

UCPD arrested a suspect for an alleged incident involving arson that occurred on Grizzly Peak Boulevard at 1:07 p.m. Wednesday, one minute after Berkeley Police Department and Berkeley Fire Department received a report of “a column of smoke and flames” in the direction of the Berkeley Hills at 1:06 p.m.

Oakland Police Department investigators have not yet determined if the suspect is connected to the Grizzly Peak fire, according to an OPD press release issued Thursday afternoon.

About 200 firefighters from nine local fire departments — including OFD, Cal Fire, Berkeley Fire Department, Moraga-Orinda Fire District and Alameda County Fire Department — responded to the Grizzly Fire on Wednesday. The fire led to a number of buildings at campus properties — including the Berkeley Lab, the Space Sciences Laboratory and the Lawrence Hall of Science — to be evacuated Wednesday.

The UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley was also closed Wednesday as a precautionary measure. Jonathan Goodrich, the associate director of visitor experience at the Botanical Garden, said staff were prepared to respond to the incident after participating in previous campus evacuation drills.

“The staff has a great appreciation for Cal Fire and all the police departments that responded quickly and efficiently to deal with the fire,” Goodrich said. “Without them, the (garden’s) valuable research collection would have been threatened.”

Contact Atira Nair at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @atirastar.