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June 16, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Fiery week in Portola Valley Fiery week in Portola Valley (June 16, 2004)

By Jennifer Nuckols and David Boyce
Special to the Almanac

Firefighters have had their share of work in Portola Valley recently, with three fires breaking out over a seven-day period.

On Saturday, June 5, a vehicle with a malfunctioning exhaust system started four small grass fires on Alpine Road near Golden Oak Drive. Firefighters from the Woodside Fire Protection District put the fires out, located the vehicle believed to have ignited them, and had it hauled off to a mechanic to be repaired, said Battalion Chief Rawn Pritchard.

Two days later, a cooking fire destroyed a small detached cottage in the 100 block of Santa Maria Drive and scorched nearby trees. The cottage was "fully involved," with flames coming out of every window, Mr. Pritchard said.

Firefighters extinguished the fire. The cottage's resident, who called in the fire, was treated for smoke inhalation, Mr. Pritchard said. Damages may amount to $100,000, he added.

On Friday, June 11, another fire broke out in a field of 3-foot-high oak grass on Los Trancos Road in Portola Valley, perhaps caused by a homemade rocket.

Witness Jim Huber was working alongside his home at 175 Los Trancos Road when he heard a pop and whoosh. About two minutes later, he began to smell smoke blowing from the other side of the street.

Firefighters arrived within seven minutes of his initial call, and in order to protect the home located on the property, hosed down the wooden steps, said Mr. Huber. By 5 p.m., the fire was completely extinguished, Mr. Huber said.

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