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Two people dead in Palo Alto house fire

Relative of one of the dead said the two victims had lived in the Embarcadero Road house

Two people were found dead after a house fire broke out Friday night at 988 Embarcadero Road, according to Palo Alto police and fire officials.

Fire units were dispatched to the blue, one-story home at 7:17 p.m., and the announcement of the fatalities was made at 9:03 p.m.

The identities of the victims were not disclosed by the Palo Alto police, but a relative who arrived on the scene told the Palo Alto Weekly that the dead had both lived in the home.

Neighbor Robert Hof told the Weekly that a man who appeared to be at least in his 50s lived in the home.

Hof said his neighbor was reclusive and hardly talked with anyone. The last time Hof spoke with the man was about a month ago, he said.

Hof said he spoke with the resident's mother, who didn't live in the home, and she said her son was a Vietnam War veteran.

Another neighbor told TV news crews that he thought the veteran had been in very poor health, as he also had not seen him for a long time. He said a caretaker lived in the home as well.

Hof was alerted to the fire by a girl who lives across the street. The blaze appeared to have ignited suddenly, he said, as just minutes before he had been cooking in his kitchen, which faces his neighbor's home, and all was normal.

After being alerted, he looked out of his kitchen window, and there were flames "coming out of the house. There were 20-foot flames."

One witness told the Weekly the flames stretched as high as the power lines.

Palo Alto police Lt. Zach Perron said that the bodies were found inside the home, but he would not disclose the exact locations. The cause of the fire is under investigation, he said.

The Santa Clara County Arson Task Force has been called to investigate, but Perron said the group's involvement is "routine" when there's been a residential fire resulting in deaths. The Task Force will begin work Sunday, after gases typically found in homes have had a chance to dissipate, according to police.

According to property records, the 1,300-square-foot house was built in 1949.

Firefighters contained the blaze -- which appeared to have started in the kitchen, an initial investigation indicated -- within 10 minutes, Perron said. But Embarcadero Road remained closed to traffic between Greer and Louis roads while firefighters and police completed their work.

As firefighters continued to ensure hot spots were put out Friday night, they walked by the home's shattered front windows. A white Toyota pickup truck sat in the driveway.

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