News

Menlo Park: Two displaced after bacon fire causes $80K damage

 

A one-alarm kitchen fire Wednesday afternoon displaced two Menlo Park residents and caused $80,000 of damage to their apartment, fire officials said.

Firefighters arrived at the two-story, 16-unit apartment building on Oak Grove Avenue at about 3:05 p.m. and brought the blaze under control within seven minutes, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

One of the residents said that she had been cooking bacon on the kitchen stovetop when a phone call distracted her. Fire Marshal Jon Johnston validated the cause and origin as "accidental, human error."

"Unattended cooking fires are the most common type of fire we see. It's easy to get distracted by a phone call, ball game, someone at the door, bathroom break or some other event," Schapelhouman said in a statement.

"We recommend you turn off the burner and move the pan or dish to another location while you are out of the kitchen," he said.

A resident was examined for smoke inhalation and possible burns but was not taken to a hospital, Schapelhouman said.

Fire officials estimated the structural damage at $50,000 and loss and damage to contents within the apartment at $30,000.

— Bay City News Service

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm

I'm glad to hear nobody was hurt.

However, this is why you carry renter's insurance. If you don't have coverage, the property owner's insurance company will go after you directly in situations like this.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2016 at 4:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note the response time:

Call was received at 12/7/2016 3:02:01 PM (122 min)
Structure fire
445 OAK GROVE AV
Menlo Park Fire

Arrived at fire 3:05

Fire out at 3:12


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2016 at 6:01 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Did they respond from the grocery store? <snicker>


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Actually the nearest station, Station 6, was on another call (not at the grocery store) and the following units responded:


BC1, BC3, E1, E3, E5, E7, E11, PT1


16 people like this
Posted by Marcy
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 8, 2016 at 6:43 pm

The Fire Dept. was AMAZING! I live in this building, and they were swift, but kind and courteous, reassuring and spot on, with every move they made; clearing the residents, without causing alarm, and getting right to the hot spot. Then they checked for smouldering embers, clear away the mess and even came back later to check again! It was like watching Cirque de Soleil perform "Firefighting", quiet and flawless! ten stars for their performance of bravery with human kindness and concern for other people's property
We are so fortunate to have such an outstanding Fire Dept. Thank you to all of them!


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2016 at 6:53 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"We are so fortunate to have such an outstanding Fire Dept. Thank you to all of them!"

Yet, there are those among us that would give them crap for going to the grocery store.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2016 at 8:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This fire and the second one that occurred in EPA today underscore the importance of both rapid response times and the INCREASED risk from buildings with modern construction materials and modern furnishings.

The greatest danger in structural fires comes from a phenomena known as Flashover.

Flashover occurs when a fire transitions from being a point source to combustion which violently engulfs the entire room of fire origin. In older style construction flashover occurs 20-30 minutes after the initial ignition but in newer style construction and with newer style furnishings with much more flamable materials flashover occurs in as few as 3-5 minutes after the initial ignition.

During flashover the temperature rises very sharply to such a level that survival of persons still in the room at that stage becomes unlikely.

In the case of the OakGrove fire yesterday the firefighters entered the structure just before the time at which a flashover could have occurred. The warning signs of an impending flashover provide less than ten seconds of warning in which time a fully suited firefighter could at best move ten feet. There was a very real possibility that flashover could have occurred when those firefighters were attempting to locate and supress the ignition source. Had that happened the consequences would have been catastrophic.

The only way that we can reduce the risk of the rapid progression of fires in buildings constructed with modern materials and filled with modern furniture is to install fire suppression sprinkler systems. Unfortunately local elected officials have been unwilling to require the retrofitting of fire sprinklers into existing structures due to the cost of such installations.

Hopefully it will not take an Oakland Ghost Ship tragedy here for local officials to realize that requiring fire sprinklers in ALL structures is essential if we are to prevent the unnecessary loss of life.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Unfortunately local elected officials have been unwilling to require the retrofitting of fire sprinklers into existing structures due to the cost of such installations."

Yes, because it is ridiculous to demand the installation of sprinklers in a 1600 square foot, single story home in which people can easily evacuate through ground floor windows when the smoke detectors go off.

In a small remodel I recently I did that was originally $300,000, the requirement of a sprinkler system required the change of a water meter ($17,000), the installation of a new 2" water main ($2500) The installation of a back-flow preventer ($1700 plus $200 in fees) and the $7000 for the sprinkler system. So all told, for a small remodel, the Owner was forced to pay $28,400 unnecessarily. Nearly 10% of the cost of construction. For what is totally unnecessary in this case. If this was a multi story, 10000 square foot house, then it makes total sense. In the case of these smaller homes it is totally unnecessary and frankly, abusive to require fire sprinkler installation.

In a small single story home, with smoke detectors and immediate access to the building exterior through egress windows, fire sprinklers are totally unnecessary and the costs are abusive to those who are remodeling smaller homes. The fire district needs to reevaluate its requirements for fire sprinklers in these situations.


10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"So all told, for a small remodel, the Owner was forced to pay $28,400 unnecessarily."

And what would you consider to be the value of a human life?

I suspect that all of the families who lost loved ones in the Ghost Ship tragedy would have been glad to have paid a mere $28,400 to have prevented even one of those 36 deaths.


6 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:26 am

[Portion removed]
How quickly can a physically handicapped person exit the house. How about a blind person. What about a hearing impaired or deaf person. Perhaps you're in the garage and your infant is asleep in their crib at the other end of the house. I could go on and on with examples where extra minutes or seconds given by sprinklers can save lives, [portion removed]
BTW city building permit/inspections for sprinkler systems should be free of charge to encourage sprinklers.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 6:53 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" change of a water meter ($17,000),"

MV - Which water service provider assessed this charge?


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

We often assume that newer is better but when it comes to flammability today's construction and furnishing materials are MUCH more flamable than are so called legacy materials.

Here is a superb study of the implications of these changes:

Web Link

Caution - This study is not light reading

And here is the bottom line from that study:
"To compare modern and legacy fires as they pertain to the operation timeframe, times to flashover can be added to the respective times to collapse. Times to flashover were taken from the room fire experiments in Section 4. The modern room flashed over in 3:30 (minutes) to 4:45 (minutes) and the legacy room flashed over in 29:30 (minutes) to 34:15. (minutes)"

That is a huge difference.

As another study stated:""Prior to flashover, a fire can be extinguished with relative ease, and damage will be minor, but extinction of a post-flashover fire requires major resources and will be accompanied by major damage, if not the complete destruction of the contents and combustible." Drysdale, Dougal. "The Flashover Phenomenon. Fire Engineers Journal, 1996; 56:185, 18-23.

And what is the importance of these facts for citizen and firefighter survival?

"During flashover, however, the temperature rises very sharply to such a level that survival of persons still in the room at that stage becomes unlikely. Thus the time interval between the start of the fire and the occurrence of flashover is a major factor in the time that is available for safe evacuation of the fire area." Lie, T.T, "Effects of Energy Conservation in Buildings," In Fire Protection Handbook, A. Cote, ed., National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, Mass., 4-205.

The only available way to mitigate this rapid onset of flashover is the installation of fire sprinkler systems.

The question is how many tragedies will it take before such systems are made mandatory in all occupied structures?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2016 at 11:13 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Which water service provider assessed this charge?"

Menlo Park City Water district.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 11:19 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Amazing -Menlo Park City Water district charged $17k for a new meter that was required to install a $7k firesprinkler system and this is city that actively opposses life saving fire sprinkler systems because the city says those systems are too expensive!!!


3 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Peter Carpenter ---
Thank you very much for this very important info you posted here. I did not even know that flashoever even existed until I read your Comment. I am not surprised that modern materials are so flammable.

We are very fortunate that you are willing to serve on the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board.

Thank you for doing your best to educate us about fires.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Fire District, Exponent Failure Analysis and PG&E will host their annual Holiday Live Fire Safety Demonstration on December 14 at noon at the District’s Training Center near the Dumbarton Bridge to highlight holiday dangers and safety solutions. Great visuals are available and the media is encouraged to attend.

As part of this demonstration you will see a live fire that flashes over. It is something that you will never forget and which may motivate you to install fire sprinklers in your home - even if you are not required to do so by local codes.

We retrofitted our Lindenwood home with fire sprinklers 6 years ago and I sleep better every night knowing that we will always have time to escape a fire in our home and that any fire that does occur will probably never spread beyond the room of origin.


5 people like this
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 9, 2016 at 1:03 pm

My next home which is coming soon will be retrofitted with sprinklers. More important than adding granite kitchen counters and new cabinets.


3 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Dec 9, 2016 at 1:22 pm

I am forever grateful to MP Fire for what they do and how it's directly made a difference in my life. I agree with Marcy. I'm so glad she and the other residence are safe. Thank you to them also for handling the recent fire here in East Palo Alto.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 9, 2016 at 5:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Amazing -Menlo Park City Water district charged $17k for a new meter that was required to install a $7k firesprinkler system and this is city that actively opposses life saving fire sprinkler systems because the city says those systems are too expensive!!!"

It isn't just MPCWD. Calwater usually starts at around $8k for a meter swap and if a 1 1/2" meter is required? $12000 minimum usually north of $20k.

If fire sprinklers are truly desired, municipalities need to pick up some of this cost or require the various water districts to change meters at much lower cost.


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

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