A structure fire reported just after midnight Saturday (April 23) in a three-story Sharon Heights apartment complex in Menlo Park displaced 50 residents from 30 apartments, according to Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.
The one-alarm fire at 350 Sharon Park Drive was knocked down in about 30 minutes by firefighters from the Menlo Park and Woodside fire protection districts, Chief Schapelhouman said. The fire left only two apartments uninhabitable a first floor unit and the unit directly above it but smoke, the discovery of asbestos and the potential for the fire to spread led to the larger evacuation, he said.
Firefighters reported just one injury: an occupant of the first-floor apartment where the fire is thought to have started cut his hand while breaking the glass of a cabinet containing a fire extinguisher, the chief said.
The cause appears to have been a case of unattended cooking in the first-floor apartment, the chief said. Firefighters are investigating.
The apartments are older, built before the requirement for internal sprinklers, the chief said. "Only the quick and aggressive actions of the firefighters prevented the fire from creating further damage and spreading both horizontally and vertically," he said.
Firefighters arrived about seven minutes after the first report, saw smoke coming from a first-floor apartment and upgraded the seriousness of the fire, the chief said. All told, the fire drew five engines, a ladder truck and two battalion chiefs about 20 firefighters in total to the scene.
The firefighters found fire in the walls of the apartment directly above the first-floor unit, but not in the walls of the third-floor unit, the chief said.
Firefighters were on the scene for hours after the fire was knocked down, in part to make sure that the fire was completely out, the chief said. Apartment management is going to handle relocating the displaced residents, he said.