New Year's Day fire displaces eight in East Palo Alto

Menlo fire district: Blaze causes an estimated $120,000 in damages

An early morning house fire displaced eight people and left a dog dead in East Palo Alto on New Year's Day.

Firefighters received a 911 call at 7:48 a.m. Friday regarding a fire at a single-story house located at 156 Verbena Way in the Gardens area of East Palo Alto, according to a press release from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. Firefighters with Menlo Park Engine 2, located in East Palo Alto, responded at 7:52 a.m. and found heavy flames at the side and rear of the home.

Eight people were able to safely escape from the home as firefighters arrived, according to the press release. One of the residents' four dogs had to be rescued from the home but died despite firefighters' attempts to resuscitate it.

The blaze was put out in 10 minutes. The fire caused an estimated $120,000 in damage to the house and contents, the fire department stated.

The fire was caused by an exterior clothes dryer, investigators said. The fire spread under the floor boards of the home to the inside and reached into the attic.

The 1,200-square-foot home was divided into three living spaces, investigators said.

"Unfortunately illegal home conversions are common in East Palo Alto where we often find multiple families and occupants living in very small converted structures," Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said in the press release. "These fires can present significant rescue and firefighting challenges and a risk to the occupants and our personnel depending upon how significantly they are illegally modified."

The fire made the house uninhabitable, according to fire officials. The American Red Cross as well as neighbors helped to relocate the occupants.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Michele
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 4, 2016 at 12:07 pm

Is there a fund set up to help them?

Like this comment
Posted by My Nguyen
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jan 4, 2016 at 12:51 pm

My Nguyen is a registered user.

Hi @Michele, not that we know of, but you may want to contact the American Red Cross.

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

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Rose International Market reopening soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 11 comments | 5,146 views

Eyes and the End of Life: Why Spend Time With the Dying?
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,822 views

The HSR Decision
By Steve Levy | 7 comments | 1,121 views

We need a new garage downtown Palo Alto -- forget about being politically correct
By Diana Diamond | 6 comments | 964 views

Know Before You Buy: Understanding Senior Living Facility Agreements
By Max Greenberg | 0 comments | 394 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details