News - February 23, 2011

Menlo Park fire displaces 14 veterans

by Janna Brancolini

Fourteen veterans were displaced from a group home in Menlo Park on Feb. 14 in a two-alarm fire that forced some to jump from second-story windows, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

Flames blocked the only staircase in the home, located at 1208 Bay Road, but no injuries were reported, he said.

"This was a very difficult fire," he said. "We're very fortunate nobody was killed or injured, especially with people jumping out of windows."

One of the veterans told investigators he accidentally started the fire in the kitchen, Chief Schapelhouman said. He then quickly helped other people leave the board-and-care facility.

Residents jumped from windows or were assisted by neighbors and others leaving the building, and they were all evacuated before the firefighters arrived. The fire was reported at the 5,000-square-foot home at about 4:40 p.m. and controlled about 35 minutes later, he said.

The sprawling house, which was destroyed in the fire, had only one staircase despite its maze of 11 bedrooms. The fire spread to both floors and had burned through the stairs and the second-story floor.

"We're lucky nobody fell through," Chief Schapelhouman said. "You can't see that in the smoke typically."

Crews stayed at the scene all night and resumed investigations the next morning.

The 14 veterans have been relocated.

Forty-one fire personnel responded, including eight engines, two trucks and six chief officers, Chief Schapelhouman said.

Editor's note: Authorities originally said the group home was in East Palo Alto but later said it was just across the border in Menlo Park.


There are no comments yet for this post

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Choose a category: *

Since this is the first comment on this story a new topic will also be started in Town Square! Please choose a category that best describes this story.

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields