Eighteenth St. and Wood -- Oakland Staging
Broadway Terrace and Aquarius
San Francisco Command Post
Lieutenant Garcia responded from his home in Alameda, and initially drove to Oakland Fire Station 1 at 16th and Martin Luther King Dr. He met up with Chief's Aide Eileen McCrystle as she was leaving the fire station. "We then went to to the area of Broadway Terrace and Aquarius in her car, where we could see the fire burning out of control," he said.
"It was going good -- it was moving right along when we arrived. The smoke and wind turned day to night," he said.
"There was a U.S. Navy fire company working along Aquarius at the time, but the firefront began to move rapidly in our direction, so we helped them pack up to get the hell out of there because the area was being overrun. The firefront was rolling down the hill from behind Aquarius, and then coming up the opposite side of the street.
"I was a few feet away from Chief's Aide McCrystle when this police officer approached her. I couldn't see what was going on, but I heard her shouting for me. I came over and saw her being handcuffed by this police officer. I couldn't believe it. This was not possible -- not in the middle of a firestorm. I just couldn't believe this was happening.
"I went over to the officer and identified myself as a member of the Department. He asked for my I.D., which I produced, and he said, `she's impersonating a firefighter,' and I said, `she's really a Chief's Aide and not a firefighter,' and he asked `what is that?' and I said, `She drives a chief officer of the Department.'
"I was still talking to him, explaining what a chief's aide was as he was shoving her in the back seat of his radio car.
"Within a few seconds he was gone. He backed up in a hurry and just left me there. I was stranded because she had the keys to her car. Just as he was pulling away, a police officer drove up, and I asked him to find out where the other officer was taking Chief's Aide McCrystle. In the meantime, he gave me a ride out of the conflagration zone.
"On the way out, he told me that she had been taken to the San Francisco command post. He then dropped me off at Highway 13 and Thornhill, and I hitched another ride from a CHP officer to the main Oakland command post at Highway 24, right in the middle of the freeway.
"I then grabbed another ride with a Red Cross van that was going to our staging area at the Claremont Hotel where she had been taken."
Upon arrival at the Claremont command post, Lt. Garcia reported in to Battalion Chief Roybal and joined the command staff. "I told Battalion Chief Roybal about her arrest, but he already knew about it; she had already arrived.
"I then assisted him with logistics for the pending arrival of the busload of firefighters that was coming from the City," he said.
"I also prepared maps of the fires' progress, and helped form the crews that were to relieve our companies up on Alvarado Rd.
"Later, I climbed up Eucalyptus Path to Battalion Chief Tabacco's command post with the extra relief radio batteries brought over from the City. I would have hated to be one of the firefighters who laid that five- inch line up the stairs, it was hard enough just climbing them.
"I remained at the San Francisco command post until about 10:30 p.m., and then returned to the City because I was going on duty at midnight at the Communications Center."