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By Henrietta J. Burroughs              Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                       Facebook    Twitter         Blog
December 19, 2016                      
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Firefighters at apartment complex fire
Photo courtesy of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District


Sixty East Palo Alto residents were evacuated Sunday evening when a fire broke out in their apartment complex. Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman, of the Menlo Park Fire District, said the single alarm fire on December 18, occurred in Building 6 of an apartment complex on Newell Road.

The fire, which caused an estimated five thousand dollars in damage, was confined to the building’s laundry room and it is suspected that it originated in a dryer that suffered an electrical malfunction. Several tenants in the complex tried to douse the fire with portable fire extinguishers, but they could not put it out. Power was shut off to the building.

Battalion Chief Mike Shaffer, the incident commander, said, "We were seconds away from the room reaching flashover, a dangerous condition where the smoke layer erupts into a 1000 degree fire ball, but the four person crew on Engine 2 was able to quickly stretch a hose line down the interior hallway from the fire engine, use tank water from the engine itself and knock the fire down before it could spread and gain more intensity."

Once the fire was completely extinguished and the smoke was blown out of the building’s first floor hallway, the building’s occupants were allowed to return to the three-story building about an hour after they were evacuated,

While the fire at the Newell Road apartment complex was being contained by the firefighters from the fire station located in East Palo Alto, fire fighters from the station in Belle Haven were called to put out a trash fire that started across the street from the fire station in East Palo Alto.

The trash fire developed in the courtyard of the Runnymede Gardens Apartments. The complex is located in East Palo Alto at 2301 Cooley Avenue.

The courtyard fire marked the fifth fire emergency in East Palo Alto in two weeks.


Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article, can be reached by email at epatoday@epatoday.org