Stanford University
CESTA
Fire Vulnerability in the Oakland Hills: Linking Emergency and Policy Reponses to the 1991 Tunnel Fire
Play
Fire Vulnerability in the Oakland Hills: Linking Emergency and Policy Reponses to the 1991 Tunnel Fire
The primary goal of this visualization is to link the Oakland Tunnel Fire event to broader post disaster planning activities using dynamic and interactive methods. Through archival research, including analysis of communication transcripts from the Oakland dispatch unit, our team established an emergency response timeline for the first two hours of the fire. We were able to determine major factors that hindered firefighters from containing and responding to the fire. A careful review of dispatch transcripts and audio files revealed that road width, overhead utilities, and on-street parking were three important factors impeding the emergency response. 

With these findings in hand, we then examined subsequent policy responses attempting to address these three major issues. We compiled FEMA after action reports and historical recommendations from the Oakland City Council to analyze present day conditions inside the 1991 fire area. The visualization illuminates various policies that have maintained levels of vulnerability within this high-fire activity area. 

Aside from showing how vulnerability persists on the landscape, this visualization also illustrates how real-time emergency response data can be leveraged to inform policy assessments over two decades later. The conflagration was chaotic and records of the emergency response, like many fires, did little by themselves to illuminate fire mitigation activities. However, animating these responses through the integration of spatial and audio data allows us to retain the authenticity and poignancy of the disaster event for the viewer.
RELATED VISUALIZATIONS:
Play
Vulnerability in Construction: An Analysis of Home Developments After the Tunnel Fire
Play
Vulnerability in Production: Road and Housing Networks
Play
Water Vulnerability in the Oakland Hills: Oakland Firestorm, 1991
Spatial History