County of Marin - News Releases - Vision Fire Anniversary

For Immediate Release
September 28, 2015

Remembering the Devastating Vision Fire of 1995

Anniversary of West Marin blaze serves as a reminder about preparedness

Woodacre, CA – As the threat of wildland fire remains prominent in the minds of Northern California residents, the Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) and neighboring agencies plan to mark the 20th anniversary of one of the county’s most devastating disasters, the 1995 Vision Fire, and preach a persistent message of preparedness.

Fire engines parked in the foreground with hills and a massive plume of smoke in the background.On October 2, Marin County Fire will host a 10:30 a.m. ceremony and press conference at a spot in West Marin near where the fire started to share memories and fire prevention tips. Featured will be first-hand accounts from first responders who fought the fire two decades ago. The location is the parking lot for the Bayview Trail on Limantour Road, about 12 miles west of Olema and roughly 1 hour, 15 minutes from the Golden Gate Bridge.

Between October 3-16, 1995, the Vision Fire burned 12,354 acres near Mount Vision in the Point Reyes National Seashore, scorching the scenic and sparsely populated land between Tomales Bay and the Drakes Bay along the Pacific Ocean. Winds of up to 45 mph turned the smoldering remains of an illegal campfire on Mount Vision into a firestorm. Ravaging private property, California State Parks land and federal land, the fire destroyed 45 structures in Inverness Park within the first hours of the blaze and forced the evacuation of 422 people, mostly residents in the hills above Inverness, Olema and Point Reyes Station. There were no fatalities or major injuries.

According to the National Park Service, “The Bear Valley area turned into a self-contained city overnight. Park headquarters became the fire incident command post. Fire engines were parked in the meadow behind the visitor center where Morgan horses usually graze. Tents and sleeping bags dotted the surrounding area.”

"It was highly emotional for us," National Parks Service spokesman John Dell 'Osso told the Marin Independent Journal in a story marking the 10th anniversary of the Vision Fire. "We didn't know when or where it would end."

Agencies spent $6.2 million to fight the fire, and the damage estimate was set at $23 million. All told, 71 agencies contributed to the suppression and recovery effort.

MCFD Battalion Chief Mike Giannini said the recent Valley Fire in Lake County, the Butte Fire in the Sierra foothills and the memories from the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire are good reminders of what can happen in Marin.

“In all three, there are very similar fuels and topography,” he said. “The Vision Fire was pushed by strong north and northeasterly winds, and virtually all large fires in Marin history have taken place on days when we’ve had that type of weather condition. We were all amazed back then that we had no fatalities. The next time, we might not be as lucky.”

At the October 2 news conference, MCFD officials will convey critical points that would be most useful for Marin homeowners and residents in the case of a disastrous wildland fire, such as:

  • Flying embers that lodge in woodpiles, under eves and in attic spaces can quickly destroy a home.
  • Embers can spark a structure fire even if the main fire is some distance away from a home.
  • Don't assume firefighters will be able to protect your home. Firefighting equipment and personnel will be spread very thin during a large fire.
  • Evacuate sooner rather than later. Do not wait for emergency personnel to knock on your door tell you to leave.
  • Have at least two ways out. Follow an evacuation plan drawn up well in advance and practiced periodically.
  • To develop your own plan, check the preparedness tips on and fire prevention websites such as
  • In the event of a major fire in Marin, monitor social media, especially the Twitter accounts for MCFD and the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, the current emergency webpage on the Sheriff’s Office website, and listen to updates from news outlets.


Mike Giannini
Battalion Chief
Marin County Fire Department

33 Castle Rock Ave.
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 473-2595
Email: Mike Giannini
Marin County Fire website