Press Release -July 28, 2020  Bug bombs catch home on fire in Menlo Park

Menlo Park Fire Protection District

Bug bombs catch home on fire in Menlo Park

Firefighters quickly extinguish the fire but not before it causes $200k in damage 


Firefighters on Menlo Engine 77 extinguish a house fire on Madera Avenue Tuesday caused by bug fogging devices– Credit Menlo Fire

San Mateo County Public Safety Communications Center (PSC) received a single call from a watchful neighbor who reported smoke coming from a single story home on the 1300 block of Madera Avenue in the Belle Haven neighborhood of Menlo Park at 11:57 am, Tuesday morning. Shortly before the firefighters arrived, neighbors also reported hearing some type of explosion.

Menlo Engine Seventy-seven with Captain/Paramedic Tony Eggimann and crew arrived on-scene at 12:01 pm and reported a working structure fire, with heavy smoke coming from the garage area of the home. After forcing entry into the home and garage area, firefighters quickly knocked down the fire down by 12:10 pm and searched the smoke filled home. No one was home but firefighters found numerous bug fogging canisters all over the home.

A total of four fire Engines, a Rescue Company, Ladder Truck and two Battalion Chiefs responded with a total of 20 personnel. Fire Investigators responded and Fire Marshal Jon Johnston determined that the cause of the fire was “accidental”, a hot water heater pilot flame appeared to be the ignition for the activated bug fogging canisters, which were clearly marked as “highly flammable”.

Fire Chief Schapelhouman said “this isn’t the first time we have had a fire caused by one of these bug bombs. Unfortunately, we’ve even had people who didn’t read the instructions and stayed inside their homes while the fogging occurred, only to complain of respiratory difficulties and chest pain. No one was at home today, but the fire and extinguishment efforts caused over $175k in structural damage and an additional $30k in property loss to this single story, 1,400 square foot home. The building was last updated in 2011 at a time when it was not required to install a residential sprinkler system that would have easily stopped todays fire. That said, the quick action and observation of the neighbor who called 911 prevented this from being much, much worse”.

The Menlo Park Fire Protection District, provides critical fire and emergency services to its areas in the Town of Atherton, Cities of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park, unincorporated San Mateo County and the SLAC National Accelerator and Laboratories.

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