Dishwasher sparks fire on Lytton in Palo Alto


A Palo Alto resident who left home with the dishwasher running returned to a kitchen on fire Tuesday, July 17.

The Palo Alto Fire Department went to 871 Lytton Ave. at 12:13 p.m. after the resident came home and heard smoke alarms sounding in her house. She found smoke inside when she opened the front door, Acting Battalion Chief Doug Conn said.

The dishwasher had been running when she left and is believed to be the cause of the fire. Palo Alto Fire Engine 1 extinguished the fire.

Minor fire and water damage occurred to the area around the dishwasher, but there was smoke damage throughout the two-story home. There were no injuries, Conn said. The fire is currently under investigation.

The response team included Palo Alto fire's engines 1, 3, rescue 2, truck 6, and Menlo Park engine 1 and Palo Alto Battalion Chief 6.


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Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

This happened to a co-worker about 15 years ago--the heating element went crazy and melted dishware, maybe even the plastic tub of the appliance. The smoke damage was the problem--bad smell!
We no longer leave appliances running when we are not home.

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Posted by Concerned Neighbor
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2012 at 10:50 am

What brand of dishwasher?

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Posted by Carroll Harrington
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 18, 2012 at 11:07 am

This same thing happened to my next door neighbor about fouryears ago. Her husband and son left early Sunday morning to play golf at Palo Alto Muni and she was awakened by the first alarm at 7:30. She went into her kitchen with smoke spewing out of the dishwasher. Here's the Weekly article. Web Link
I now make sure that I am nearby when I run the dishwasher.

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Posted by Bleezy
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 18, 2012 at 11:17 am

It sounds like this woman was the homeowner, but I have a separate question for the legal folks-

If the same situation happened to a renter, would the renter be liable for the damage to the unit? In other words, is it considered negligence to leave an apartment with electrical appliances running?

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Posted by me
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2012 at 11:42 am

Great Job PAFD!!!

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2012 at 12:18 pm

The renter is not liable (I'm a former landlord). Unless you have specific requirements in the lease, there's no liability. Of course, who would sign a lease that says you can't leave the house or apartment when you're running the dishwasher?

This is why you have insurance. Plus the renter should have renter's insurance - which I required proof as part of the lease agreement.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I can't imagine a renter would be liable for running a dishwasher, I would think the owner would be liable for maintaining the dishwasher (and other appliances) in safe working order.

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Posted by midtown res
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm

our bosch dishwasher is about 12 years old. it works fine but how would I find out when to replace it? any ideas?

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Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2012 at 2:24 pm

I can't believe that anyone would leave the house with a dishwasher or washing machine running! Dryer, MAYBE, but something that has water in it that can leak onto the floor if something goes wrong? No way.

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Posted by Funky
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2012 at 10:47 pm

Most current dishwashers and washing machines shut off if they detect a water leak. As a result, I would feel safe leaving with those running. (My dishwasher also has not heating element for the drying cycle.) But I can't believe anyone would leave their house with a dryer running. There a quite a few dryer fires cause by dryer vents being clogged with lint and catching fire. That is more of a threat than water damage.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2012 at 12:23 am

Stretch - it's funny - we're the total opposite. We'll leave sometimes w/washer running, but never dryer. Maybe we've just read about too many dryer fires? We have a moderately pricey coffeemaker catch fire when plugged in but turned off. It was scary - if we'd left on time, we wouldn't have been home when it happened.

I'm so glad that this reported incident wasn't much worse.

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Posted by Firefighter
a resident of another community
on Jul 19, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Never leave a dishwasher, washer, dryer, floor heater, electric blanket, iron, stove, oven on or running if nobody is home. I have been on fires all cause by these being left running or on.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Thank you, Firefighter. We need to follow your advice.

What about electric fans & ceiling fans?

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Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 21, 2012 at 2:24 am

Shutting everything off is ridiculous, what about laptops with batteries that catch fire, or virtually anything.

The same would follow if you were going to sleep as well.

Things can catch fire.

One day I smelled smoke ( I have a senstive sense of smell ) and I was walking around trying to figure out what it was or if I was hallucinating.

This is the oddest thing, turns out that I had a glass full of liquid that the sun was shining through and just happened to be focused on a piece of wood attached to the garage. It was black and smoldering and might or might not have actually caught fire, but weird stuff happens that cannot be avoided - one has to keep on living.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on Jun 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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