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Did transients start fire at abandoned house?

 

Investigators are looking into the possibility that transients started a suspicious fire at an abandoned house owned by the Menlo Park Fire Protection District early Friday morning, a fire spokesman said Monday, March 14.

East Palo Alto police spotted the fire shortly after midnight at an abandoned house at 2293 Capitol Ave., which the Menlo Park Protection Fire District purchased as part of a long-term plan to expand one of its fire stations, Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

No one was injured in the one-alarm blaze, and the flames were under control within 20 minutes.

The fire started on the outside of the home, which is one reason investigators considered the incident suspicious, Schapelhouman said.

"Unless someone was cooking outside, we're not sure why the fire would have started," he said.

Schapelhouman said there have been problems with transients living in department-owned properties in the past, and they might have started the fire, but he won't know until the investigation is completed.

All of the utilities had been shut off at the home, Schapelhouman said.

"The house didn't spontaneously combust," he said.

The building was vacant and scheduled to be demolished later this year.

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