UC COOPERATIVE EXTENSION CENTENNIAL: Eucalyptus fuel dynamics, and fire hazard in the Oakland hills
California Agriculture 68(3):91-91. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v068n03p91.
Published online July 01, 2014
Eucalyptus trees were introduced to California from Australia in the 1850s and have become invasive in some coastal areas since then. In 1973, following a two-year study of eucalyptus stand densities, caloric content of fuel and dynamics of fuel accumulation in the Oakland Hills, researchers recommended a fuel reduction program. Eighteen years later, a firestorm in the Oakland Hills fueled by high winds and dense groves of freeze-damaged eucalyptus and pine trees killed 25 people and destroyed nearly 4,000 dwellings.
“Eucalyptus has been a scenic and aromatic addition to the California landscape for over a century. The rapid growth of early plantations caught the eye of timber speculators around 1900 and millions of eucalyptus seedlings, predominately blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) were planted. They soon covered the crest of the Berkeley-Oakland Hills, and have created a serious fire hazard since that time at the urban-wildland interface.
“… The late 1972 freeze has resulted in a proposed fuel management program for the Berkeley-Oakland Hills. Management of eucalyptus groves is an integral part of such a program. The results of this study indicate that fuel buildup occurs very rapidly in unmanaged eucalyptus stands, and to maintain low fuel levels a fuel reduction program should be implemented.”