UPDATE: Firefighters discover man dead at structure fire in Menlo Oaks; site is crime scene


A spokesman for the Menlo Park Fire Protection District has confirmed one fatality at a residence that went up in flames early this morning.

Detectives from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office have declared the site a crime scene, which restricts the amount of detail that can be released to the public, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

Firefighters discovered the middle-aged male victim lying dead in the only unburned room on the first floor of a two-story house at 825 Berkeley Ave. in Menlo Park after responding to what was originally a medical call, Chief Schapelhouman said.

The first call came in around 1:29 a.m., and following calls from neighbors reported the incident as a tree fire, then an explosion, then a vehicle fire, and then a structure fire, he said.

Chief Schapelhouman said the first firefighters arrived on the scene at 1:34 a.m. to find a fully involved structure fire. The fire was raised from one- to two-alarm at approximately 1:40 a.m.

Firefighters had the fire controlled by roughly 2 a.m., he said.

The fire burned through the majority of the building. There was no roof and there were no supporting roof beams left in place, he said. The second floor had collapsed on to the first floor. It had been burning for a "long period of time," the chief said.

Firefighters were able to enter an unburned portion on the first floor where they discovered the victim dead at the scene, he said.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury when he tripped over a hose, Chief Schapelhouman said. It was dark back in there, he added.

According to reports from neighbors, Chief Schapelhouman said, the resident at the house that went up in flames had a girlfriend, but they reported that her car was not in the driveway.

The chief said the fire district had about 40 personnel at the scene and 15 firefighting vehicles. Two investigators plus the fire marshal are currently investigating the cause of the fire.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

If you do nothing else, do These Three Things
By Sherry Listgarten | 41 comments | 2,146 views

Lentil Brownies
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 544 views

Finding Balance
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 315 views


The Almanac Readers' Choice ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "The Almanac Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 17th issue of The Almanac.