Two-alarm fire chars downtown restaurant | News | Palo Alto Online |


Two-alarm fire chars downtown restaurant

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A two-alarm fire broke out at Evvia Estiatorio in downtown Palo Alto Thursday at approximately 2:30 p.m. No one was injured, firefighters reported.

Sous chef Rito Castaneda said he was in the kitchen when an employee looked up and saw smoke coming from one of the light fixtures in the ceiling. The staff called 911 and both lunch-time diners and employees evacuated the restaurant, he said.

A firefighter confirmed that the fire appeared to start in the boards between the restaurant's ceiling and room and that it was confined to that space.

At least six fire engines, plus trucks from Palo Alto and Santa Clara County responded to the incident at 420 Emerson St., according to Barbara Cimino, fire department spokesperson. Fire personnel attacked the blaze both from below and above, she said.

Crews extinguished the flames by at least 3:10 p.m., witnesses reported. But Cimino said at 3:30 p.m. that the fire would not be considered officially extinguished until all the smoldering embers were put out.

In the aftermath, soaked tables and chairs littered the sidewalk, employees huddled together in the parking lot across the street, and firefighters worked on the roof and from a fire truck ladder extended over the building.

Castaneda said the restaurant might be closed for a week.

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Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:01 pm

I'm glad the firefighters weren't on "furlough" today. But there were so many of them they were practically tripping over each other. How often does PA need 6 fire engines? It's that we so seldom have a fire that when we do everyone wants to "come to the party!"
But, with fires, it's always better to have too many resources than too few. Those buildings downtown are all very close together.

Like this comment
Posted by Etaoin Shrdlu
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm

No, it happened in Palo Alto. Blame it on Stanford. Hire a consultant. (But seriously, it's too bad about the fire. Great food, nice people. Also, great firemen. All union members, I believe.)

Like this comment
Posted by Glad we've got the equipment
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Sep 24, 2009 at 4:29 pm

There are two reasons for the city to have so much firefighting equipment:

1. If you station equipment in multiple locations around the city, you reduce the time required to respond to an incident. This saves lives and reduces property damage.

2. If there are large fires or multiple fires at the same time, you need to have enough equipment and firefighters on hand to respond. Otherwise, the fires waft embers into the air which then ignite more structures. Possibly even large parts of the city. Worst case looks like San Francisco 1906.

Like this comment
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 24, 2009 at 5:03 pm

So if the local Palo Alto Tea Party enthusiasts get their wish as regards removing unionization for the city workers in the next target Fire and Police, teachers, local nurses in hospitals?

Like this comment
Posted by unonimus
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 24, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Firefighters are awesome. Thanks for doing an awesome job keeping people and property safe. Firefighters shouldn't have to deal with crap regarding insurance and benefits since they decided to take a job risking their necks for people every day.

Like this comment
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 24, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Hope Evvia reopens soon...It's our favorite restaurant!

Like this comment
Posted by Kathy
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Thank you very much re: "show me the proof". I find many of these comments very disturbing. I was at the fire scene today and was "moved to tears" for many, many reasons. The photos and the comments don't do justice to the reality. It will be interesting to see what happens next.........

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Hopefully this incident may shed some light regarding potential dangers of mixed use development or "shop house" style of living - housing over businesses.

4 people like this
Posted by Athena Marie
a resident of another community
on Sep 24, 2009 at 10:36 pm

first, thank God nobody was hurt.

My business suffered a devastating fire in Feb 2008 so this hits closer to home for me than for most. Unfortunately I didn't have ample coverage and took a major financial loss. What I learned, though painfully, may help others. Folks - make sure you have the proper insurance, whther for your home or business (or both!) As your property or business increases in value, check with your agent and increase your coverage accordingly to ensure yourself the peace of mind in case something as unexpected and tragic such as a fire occurs. I'm not an agent, just an advocate to help others since I went through it and am now trying to rebuild my life at 32, having had a successful business for seven years, post devastation. Live and learn, and then share when you can.

Like this comment
Posted by funky
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:41 am

Actually, if teabeggers get their way, not only will labor unions be outlawed, but fire departments will be privatized, for profit businesses, traded on Wall Street. If your business or home is burning down, you will have to show proof of insurance and fill out a few forms before the firefighters start extinguishing the fire.

Like this comment
Posted by K
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 10:16 am

Nice photos.

Like this comment
Posted by p.a. mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

Thank goodness for our "socialized" fire department. All public employees and they do a FABULOUS job! Thank you, thank you Palo Alto firefighters!

Like this comment
Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:16 am

Ironically, the fire at Evvia caused less smoke pollution than the restaurant produces on an average day. Further irony, on spare the air days, when pollution is highest, Evvia cuts back its pollution, thus the ambient air is less polluted than it is on non-spare the air days. I hope the restaurant management, and the city powers-that-be, will work to correct Evvia's excessive pollution of the downtown air.

Like this comment
Posted by YSK
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:19 am

God, so many of you people just whine and criticize. No wonder the City employees want more money. It's STRESS PAY. YOU go put your life on the line to fight a fire.

Like this comment
Posted by gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:35 am

The fire department is "socialized", thank God and thank you the PA Fire Department. So is the military, air traffic control, the police, FIMA, etc. Can somebody explained how is health care any different and why it should be a for profit industry instead of a fundamental human right the government must provide and protect, just like defending the public from crime, natural disasters, air collisions or invading armies?

Like this comment
Posted by p.a. mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:35 pm

So true, Gerald! I often wonder how some of the loudest voices against universal health care, people who would deny their neighbors and fellow Americans life-saving treatment, can call themselves Christian. Really, would Jesus put profits first and let people die for lack of money in the presence of their need?

Like this comment
Posted by Roy G. Biv
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Hail to the firefighters who have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and are real heros. Shame on you who whine about paying them a decent wage to protect YOU and your property. I hope you never need their services. My hat is off to all the firefighters.

Like this comment
Posted by K of barron park
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online.]

Like this comment
Posted by PA Firfighter
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:19 pm

We response to over 7000 911 calls per year. That's a lot of "hiding" K of Barron Park.

Like this comment
Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm

I'm not sure, but I think the fire trucks drive around town to keep their "beat" fresh in their minds. You don't want the fireman headed to your house getting lost on a GPS wild goose chase.

Fire personnel live at the firehouse for about a week at a time; and every time they change shift personnel, they get groceries for the week. No chance to pop out to a restaurant because you don't feel like cooking tonight at the fire house.

Like this comment
Posted by Andres
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 6:24 pm

PA Firefighter=there are many people in our strange country, like 'K of Barron Park' who are very hostile to people who actually work for a living and often risk their life for the community, like firefighters. They are mad that such productive and dedicated people have the nerve to organize and insist on decent wages and a safe working environment. They have sympathy only for undemocratic, greedy corporation and Wall Street speculators, since to them greed, the exploitation of those who aren't ultra wealthy and "only the strong and ruthless survive" are the values this country is based on.

Like this comment
Posted by 123
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 26, 2009 at 8:02 am

The video clip looks pretty organized. Well done, PAFD. In case the fire took a long time to extinguish, it's good to have "extra" FFs on scene. Firefighters have to take time out to switch out their air tanks (those who were using them), rehydrate, take off their coats and cool down, etc. And, besides, it behooves everyone that firefighters get experience at fire scenes, which are relatively rare in this day of fire prevention, because we want them completely ready to go next time hell breaks loose.

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 26, 2009 at 5:45 pm

For the people not paying attention, the Fire Dept. and the Police Dept. already *volunteered* months ago to take a pay cut (5% I believe). They are not going out and asking for raises and increases in benefits...

And for those of you who don't get it - you can never have enough back up at a fire. What if the roof caved in or spread into an adjacent building? What if some of the firefighters got hurt, who was going to save them? You always have back up for the unpredictable. SOP.

Unless you have walked a centimeter in a fire fighter's boots, I suggest that you back off criticizing safety related decisions and the expertise/experience that have developed these methods - especially when the PAFD was successful in keeping the fire from spreading. No injuries and limited property damage.

Get a life critics.

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