Industry News

Rebuilding after disaster

Part 1: Oakland Hills Fire transformed character of hillside homes

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Editor's note: After the initial concerns of rescuing people from natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the next big question is over the recovery and rebuilding process, which has already begun in Katrina-ravaged areas. In this three-part series, we look back to the rebuilding process after the Oakland Hills fire in Northern California in 1991, Hurricane Andrew in South Florida in 1992, and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in downtown Manhattan. We examine the damage in each case, what happened to the local real estate markets in the short-term, and what's happening today. (See Part 2: Real estate rebirth after hurricanes and Part 3: Downtown Manhattan real estate bounced back.) The Oakland and Berkeley hills of California burned on Oct. 20, 1991, and firefighters could do little to stop the fast-moving firestorm. Heat from the blaze was so intense - reaching up to 2,000 degrees - that it disintegrated tires and melted metal, mowing through house after house and kil...