On the afternoon of September 17, 1923, just about everyone in Berkeley California had taken note of the uncommonly warm, dry wind blowing in from the northeast. What they didn’t know was that a small grass fire over the hill in Wildcat Canyon was growing fast, leaping from grass to brush to tree—and it was about to crest the hills of North Berkeley. When it did, near Berryman Reservoir, the fire was a half mile wide. A thick black cloud came pouring over the hill, followed by surging flames pressed low by warm, gale-force winds, known as Diablo winds.
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