BREAKING NEWS Structure Fire in East Palo Alto displaces 11 residents on Christmas Eve

December 24, 2020

Menlo Park Fire Protection District

“This is the second fire in two days caused by outdoor cooking, yesterday’s fire at the Camper Restaurant in down town Menlo Park was also related to outdoor cooking” the Fire Chief said

Firefighters quickly extinguished a fast moving structure fire on Oakwood Avenue in East Palo Alto Thursday morning, but not before it displaced the 11 occupants who come from two families that included 7 adults and 4 children. An alert neighbor called 911 at 9:59 am to report smoke coming the building and then went over to warn the residents. One of the homes adults tried to use a garden hose and enter the first floor room where the smoke was coming from, unfortunately when he opened the door, the fresh air caused the Smokey condition to flash over and essentially the entire room, which had been pre-heating, erupted into fire, forcing him out of the building.

Menlo Engine 1 arrived on scene at 10:06 am and reported smoke showing from the first floor of a two story, residential structure. They were alerted that they may have a burn victim but upon further investigation Fire/Paramedics determined that was not accurate. They quickly deployed a hose line and directly attacked the fire before it spread to the rest of the structure. A full first alarm assignment arrived consisting of four engines, a rescue, ladder truck and Battalion Chief, or 19 fire personnel. The fire was deemed under control at 10:36 am and three Fire Investigators responded, including the Fire Marshal.

Fire Marshal Johnston saidthe origin of the fire was an active smoker/cooker that had been directly placed against wall of the building and room that caused the fire. The radiant heat transmitted through the wall and pre-heated the room and it’s combustible contents, which started to smoke and were at the right temperature when the door was opened, introducing oxygen, to flash and start the fire. The older 1,500 square foot Spanish styled structure suffered heat and smoke damage throughout, despite firefighters quick response and actions. We estimate the loss or damage to the structure at $100k and contents at $5k”.

Fire Chief Schapelhouman said “this is the second outdoor cooking related fire we have had in two days, yesterdays fire at the Camper Restaurant located in down town Menlo (898 Santa Cruz Avenue) reported at 12:57 pm, was caused by an employee putting outdoor cooker ash into a cardboard box and then setting it indoors where it burst into flames, causing about $5k in damage to the restaurants entry way. Fortunately, employees were on-hand, called firefighters and together they quickly controlled the fire and limited the damage. Outdoor cooking appliances should not be to close to combustibles and/or buildings and any ash removal should be put into a metal can that is emerged in water before its disposal. Both of these fires were human error and accidental in nature”.

The American Red Cross was contacted to assist the displaced families with temporary housing and Firefighters turned the structure back over to the owners just after 1 pm. The fire and other emergencies slightly disrupted the Fire Districts on-duty CV-19 vaccination distribution schedule to its front line personnel.

Pictured above – A structure fire on Oakwood Avenue in East Palo Alto has displaced 11 occupants living in a two story Spanish style residential structure - Credit Menlo Fire

Pictured above – Menlo Fire Investigator Marlon Spencer starts his investigation of the structure fire on Oakwood Avenue in East Palo Alto by first

documenting the outside of the building before moving inside to the fires origin - Credit Menlo Fire

Pictured above – Essentially a room and contents fire on the first floor, the smoke and heat quickly spread to the rest of the two story structure, dated and non-sprinklered, Spanish style structure located in East Palo Alto, displacing 11 occupants - Credit Menlo Fire

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