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Eleven residents displaced after East Palo Alto fire

Fire officials say blaze was caused by cooking equipment

A fire at an Oakwood Avenue home in East Palo Alto displaced 11 residents on Dec. 24. Courtesy Menlo Fire

The family of Frida Velazquez, whose house was damaged by the Dec. 24 fire on Oakwood Avenue, has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the recovery effort. For more information or to donate, visit this page.

Eleven East Palo Alto residents, including four children, were displaced Thursday morning after a fire damaged their Oakwood Avenue home.

None of the occupants were injured in the fire, which began on the first floor of the two-story residential building, according to a news release from Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. A neighbor saw smoke coming from the building at about 9:59 a.m. and called 911 before going to warn the residents, Schapelhouman said in the news release.

One of the adult residents reportedly tried to enter the room where there was smoke with a garden hose. When the air entered the room, the entire room erupted into fire, forcing him out of the building, Schapelhouman said.

Fire crews responded at 10:06 a.m. and deployed a hose line to directly attack the fire. They were able to control it by 10:36 a.m., according to Schapelhouman.

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The cause of the fire is believed to be related to outdoor cooking. Schapelhouman noted that this is the second fire that the district has responded to in two days that was caused by outdoor cooking. On Wednesday afternoon, firefighters responded to a fire at Camper Restaurant in Menlo Park, where an employee brought a cardboard box with outdoor cooker ash inside, where it burst into flames and caused about $5,000 in damage to the restaurant’s entryway.

Fire Marshal Jon Johnston had determined that the cause of the Thursday fire in East Palo Alto was an active smoker or cooker that has been directly placed against the wall of the building. The heat transmitted through the wall pre-heated the room and its combustible contents, according to the news release. He noted that the Oakwood Avenue home had heat and smoke damage throughout the structure.

"Outdoor cooking appliances should not be too close to combustibles and/or buildings and any ash removal should be put into a metal can that is emerged in water before its disposal," Schapelhouman said in the news release. "Both of these fires were human error and accidental in nature."

Johnston estimated that the fire caused about $100,000 in damage to the structure, as well as a loss of $5,000 in building contents.

American Red Cross was contacted to assist the displaced families with finding temporary housing.

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Eleven residents displaced after East Palo Alto fire

Fire officials say blaze was caused by cooking equipment

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 24, 2020, 3:03 pm
Updated: Mon, Dec 28, 2020, 11:18 am

The family of Frida Velazquez, whose house was damaged by the Dec. 24 fire on Oakwood Avenue, has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the recovery effort. For more information or to donate, visit this page.

Eleven East Palo Alto residents, including four children, were displaced Thursday morning after a fire damaged their Oakwood Avenue home.

None of the occupants were injured in the fire, which began on the first floor of the two-story residential building, according to a news release from Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman. A neighbor saw smoke coming from the building at about 9:59 a.m. and called 911 before going to warn the residents, Schapelhouman said in the news release.

One of the adult residents reportedly tried to enter the room where there was smoke with a garden hose. When the air entered the room, the entire room erupted into fire, forcing him out of the building, Schapelhouman said.

Fire crews responded at 10:06 a.m. and deployed a hose line to directly attack the fire. They were able to control it by 10:36 a.m., according to Schapelhouman.

The cause of the fire is believed to be related to outdoor cooking. Schapelhouman noted that this is the second fire that the district has responded to in two days that was caused by outdoor cooking. On Wednesday afternoon, firefighters responded to a fire at Camper Restaurant in Menlo Park, where an employee brought a cardboard box with outdoor cooker ash inside, where it burst into flames and caused about $5,000 in damage to the restaurant’s entryway.

Fire Marshal Jon Johnston had determined that the cause of the Thursday fire in East Palo Alto was an active smoker or cooker that has been directly placed against the wall of the building. The heat transmitted through the wall pre-heated the room and its combustible contents, according to the news release. He noted that the Oakwood Avenue home had heat and smoke damage throughout the structure.

"Outdoor cooking appliances should not be too close to combustibles and/or buildings and any ash removal should be put into a metal can that is emerged in water before its disposal," Schapelhouman said in the news release. "Both of these fires were human error and accidental in nature."

Johnston estimated that the fire caused about $100,000 in damage to the structure, as well as a loss of $5,000 in building contents.

American Red Cross was contacted to assist the displaced families with finding temporary housing.

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