House fire damages bedroom


A woman suffered a minor burn on her hand and a deputy from the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office was examined for smoke inhalation in connection with a two-alarm house fire Thursday afternoon, Dec. 1, at 214 Eleanor Drive in Woodside.

Medics took both victims to a hospital as a precautionary measure, Chief Dan Ghiorso of the Woodside Fire Protection District said in a telephone interview. The burn, on the woman's hand, was "not very serious at all," he said.

The fire in the one-story house probably started in the power supply of a 10-year-old track lighting system that had been properly installed in the bedroom, district Fire Marshal Denise Enea said in a telephone interview. The power supply may have shorted out or overheated, she said.

This fire was a particularly difficult one in that firefighters had to pull hoses around to the back of the house, Ms. Enea said. "The fire fully engaged the bedroom," she said. "The firefighters did an amazing stop on this fire. In a matter of minutes, this fire would have spread to the rest of the house."

The bedroom and nearby bathroom are now unusable, with damage estimated at $75,000 to the structure and contents, she said. A hallway has some smoke damage and minor water damage.

The contents of the bedroom included much that became fuel, including a mattress, bed, dresser, computer, TV and many CDs, Ms. Enea said. Plastics are particularly susceptible to releasing highly combustible gases when they burn, she said. The explosion-like ignition of those gases is what can dramatically and instantaneously expand a fire.

What stood between a contained fire and a full-on house fire was a thin bedroom door that, being closed, denied the fire the ventilation it would have needed to spread, Ms. Enea said.

Battalion chiefs called for a second alarm in view of the medical evacuations, but the extra equipment turned out to be unnecessary to extinguish the fire, Chief Ghiorso said. The fire was all but out in about 12 minutes, he said.

The agencies participating included one unit from Woodside -- the district was also engaged in an incident on Skyline Boulevard, the chief said -- and Redwood City, Menlo Park, San Carlos and the Sky Londa station of the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

At one point, three firefighters were up on the flat roof and removed one skylight for access and ventilation.

The fire did not damage vegetation and presented no danger of spreading beyond the house, Chief Ghiorso said.

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