OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Amid one of the driest years on record, a popular fireworks viewing spot in the East Bay hills will be closed on the 4th of July.
Berkeley and Oakland have teamed up to close Grizzly Peak Boulevard between Skyline and Centennial Drive to non-residents from 5:00 a.m. on July 4th to 5:00 a.m. July 5th.
The scenic road winding high above the East Bay hills has been a common place for people to gather to watch fireworks, and in some cases even light them off.
"We understand people want to have fun and enjoy themselves, but the smallest of an accident, whether it be a cigarette or the smallest of a safe and sane firework, which we don't allow here anyways, but any spark or any ignition source can create a catastrophic fire," said Battalion Chief Ryan Meineke with the Oakland Fire Department.
If a fire were to start along the narrow, winding road, evacuations of residents and visitors would be a problem.
"Access for fire engines and emergency vehicles, police vehicles, ambulances, whatever would be needed if there was an incident, is already tight up there, and if we have thousands of people and hundreds of cars, it makes it extremely difficult," Meineke told KPIX 5.
The closure comes as authorities in Oakland, the East Bay and across the Bay Area have cracked down on illegal fireworks by making seizures and arrests. Several cities have also approved high fines and even jail time for violators.
Firefighters are staffing up for the holiday weekend, but hope people will celebrate responsibly.
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