Menlo Park Fire Protection District firefighters suspect that fireworks are to blame for a blaze in a detached garage backyard living space in Menlo Park on the Fourth of July.
The fire was reported at a detached garage behind a home in the 1300 block of Sevier Drive at 7:50 p.m, according to a press release issued Wednesday. The blaze was brought under control by 8:03 p.m.
Fire Marshal Jon Johnston noted that used and unused fireworks were all around the structure. Although the occupants asserted that fireworks were not a factor, no other cause could be found, and the origin of the fire appeared to be a small burn hole through the roof, according to the district.
The garage had been converted into a living space without permits, and one family member was displaced. The estimated structural loss was $30,000, with an additional $10,000 for contents.
Earlier in the week, Menlo firefighters treated a 20-year-old man in North Fair Oaks who suffered lacerations and burns to his face and hand after a glass bottle with illegal fireworks inside of it blew up in front of a building July 2, according to a press release from the district.
An uptick in the use of fireworks was reported throughout the Midpeninsula over the last couple of months. City council members and chiefs of police and fire departments from Palo Alto, Menlo Park and East Palo Alto met to discuss the issue on June 29.
Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said in Wednesday's press release that local fireworks activity this year was "the worst I've ever seen it" in his 40 years with the district.
"Clearly a lot of people seemed to just not care," he said. "That said, I am grateful that the number of actual fire and medical incidents was amazingly small compared to the number of illegal fireworks being used, especially the ground mortars being used for aerial shows all over the city of East Palo Alto and in some areas of Menlo Park, like Belle Haven and unincorporated county areas like North Fair Oaks."