San Francisco Command Post
Alvarado Rd. Operations
Chief's Aide DeStefano was on his way home to Dublin, listening to the 49er game on the radio as the announcers spoke of a large fire in the Oakland hills.
"I could see this cloud," he said, "and I was on the backside of the hills. I thought to myself, `Jesus, it must be awful big.' In fact I was with my neighbor and I said to him, `I think I'll probably be going to this one.' He said, `You gonna go into Oakland?' and I said, `If it's that big, yes.'
"I heard one announcer say that they were calling for professional firefighters to come to the scene, so I went home and grabbed my [turnout] gear and threw it in my truck, and I also grabbed a couple of five-gallon Alhambra water bottles, in case they needed drinking water.
"Before I took off to the fire I called our Communications Center, and talked to [Assistant Watch Commander Lt.] John Sweeney and told him that I had heard the announcer on the radio say that we had units on the scene of the fire. I said, `Can you tell me where you sent our crews from San Francisco?' He said `they're at Hiller and Tunnel,' and I told him, `I'm going out there.'
"I took off and went down to Highway 24, but it was blocked at [Interstate] 580, so I went around the barrier and went through the Caldecott Tunnel, and that's where I found the Oakland command post, right on the highway. At about 3 p.m., I checked in, and asked them if they knew the whereabouts of the San Francisco command post.
"I headed for the Claremont Hotel, and when I arrived, I reported in to Battalion Chief Roybal and began to assist him with command post and staging operations. I basically ran the resource pool after I arrived, and then did a multitude of things, because I wasn't really assigned to any particular San Francisco unit.
"There was some difficulty with the five-inch hoselay, and so I went up to Alvarado Rd. They were having problems with communications; the batteries were going dead and we didn't have any spare batteries for the new [Motorola Saber I] portables.
"I went up to the forward command post with a Novato mutual aid chief officer to see what they wanted to do about staffing. Chief Tabacco said he wanted to move five-inch hose, so I helped him set up the relay.
"We got crews together and helped them drag the five-inch line up the stairs at Eucalyptus Path. Then there was a need for relay rigs, and a need for an engine at the top of the hill.
"There were so many rigs up there, and the streets were far too narrow for operations, so you couldn't move any more rigs into the area. Battalion Chief Tabacco said, `We need a rig and we need it now,' on the Department radio.
"I saw the driver of the Pleasanton engine and said, `Okay, we need you as a relay for the five-inch line to pump up to Alvarado.'
"We disconnected him from the hydrant, then [Hayward Battalion] Chief O'Sullivan drove ahead of us and I went with the guy on the Pleasanton rig. We set up at the top of the stairs to pump the relay.
"We got that all set up and I came back down the hill and reported in to Assistant Chief Musante. He had a report from some citizens that the fire had jumped the canyon that runs down into Claremont Blvd. right into the hotel.
"I went with them and found some CDF units at work with a bulldozer. They said they didn't need any further assistance, and so I came back and continued to assist with command post operations and helped stage all incoming personnel from the City."