Firefighter Victoria Hayden
Engine 34

Eighteenth St. and Wood -- Oakland Staging
Lake Temescal

"I was in Lagunitas, in Marin County, watching the 49er game when they broke in to talk about the fire. I immediately returned to the City and went to Station 34, picked up my gear and went directly to Oakland.

"I didn't know where assistance was needed, so I asked a couple of paramedics who directed me to the fire station at 18th and Wood in Oakland. I reported in to an Oakland firefighter, and he said, `We don't really need you.' He just treated me with a condescending attitude, even though I was in my uniform. and asked me if I was a volunteer.

"This guy was rude; I was under the impression that he was not too keen on women. He was also rude to the woman signing-in in front of me, who I think was from CDF.

"I saw Bob Childs and retired Assistant Chief Frank Blackburn there, and they directed me to Raimondi Park where helicopters were landing. It was a staging area.

"A friend of mine, who is a CDF firefighter-paramedic, was with me and we wound up going to the school where they had the Red Cross set up, and then I talked to a cop, who was from either Hayward or Oakland, and she took us in her radio car to the Oakland command post on Highway 24.

"That's when I hooked up with retired Assistant Chief Blackburn and his portable water unit. I went up to the fire line near Lake Temescal with Assistant Chief Blackburn and Lt. Bob Childs who were planning on drafting from the Lake, but East Bay MUD didn't want us using the lake water, so we planned to draft from a pool.

"Assistant Chief Blackburn was in conference with East Bay MUD for quite a while, and it was sort of a `wait' situation. We had this piece of equipment to get water on the fire and they weren't putting us to work.

"After several hours of being exposed to severe smoke conditions there, I started to get pretty sick. There was a pretty good amount of smoke -- there was a lot of it in the air, so I hitched a ride with a CHP unit back down to the Red Cross Station.

"The CDF firefighter who had gone to the fire line with me commented that I did not look too good, so I went to the Red Cross aid station, and they put me on oxygen. Then a nurse took my pulse and sort of checked me out, and then I was transported to Merritt Hospital.

"They gave me some inhalation treatment at Merritt Hospital, and kept me under observation for several hours.

"The doctor told me, `Don't go back up there -- get out of here. It wouldn't be conducive to your health to go back into that smoke.'

"I went back to the Red Cross station where my car was, washed up and went home.

"My total time spent at this incident was 20 hours; 16 on the fire line and 4 in the hospital."

Chief's Aide DeStefano
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