A passerby saw flames shooting from the home at 1 Odell Place and stopped at a nearby store to report the fire at 12:57 p.m., Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Herald Schapelhouman said. Fire crews arrived three minutes later and the fire was controlled at 1:45 p.m.
The owner was away at the time of the fire and has since been notified, Chief Schapelhouman said.
Firefighters from Menlo Park, Woodside and Redwood City fought the blaze that engulfed the 3,200-square-foot, 1920s-style home. Thick smoke from the fire blanketed the grounds and obscured traffic at El Camino Real and Atherton Avenue, which was temporarily closed.
The fire required services of 10 engines, four battalion chiefs, two ladder trucks, a breathing support unit, and three fire investigators, Chief Schapelhouman said.
The home's roof was made of heavy wood shingles, an inch in thickness, which Chief Shapelhouman said produces "quite a fuel load."
"This style of home wouldn't be built today because of the fire danger," he said. "Fire runs through the hidden spaces above the rooms and causes a lot of problems."
Preliminary damage estimates indicate a 100 percent loss. "There's significant interior damage," he said.
— Report by David Boyce of the Almanac and Bay City News Service.