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Fire damages library 'Friends' office, spares books

Original post made on Aug 9, 2010

An early morning fire at Cubberley Community Center damaged the office of "Friends of the Palo Alto Library" Monday, destroying computer equipment and burning the walls and ceiling at the trailer building just days before the group's monthly book sale. The sale will proceed next weekend.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 9, 2010, 1:49 PM

Comments (18)

Posted by Rwolf
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 9, 2010 at 3:38 pm

I hope someone says "thanks" to the homeless guy who reported it! He prevented a much bigger disaster.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 9, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Maybe it's time for the "Friends" to buy a fire alarm for this building, even if the Fire Department does not require it.

Posted by DaveW
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 9, 2010 at 7:47 pm

The din of the odor is heavy enough now that to eliminate it might be time consuming and expensive. I heard they are contacting their insurance company to be compensated for the smoke damaged inventory which the odor seems to have permeated - no scorched or water damaged books were to be seen by me. They are taking some books home to see if they can be aired out. Future sales will go on because of the recent abundance of space with inclusion of the old JCC offices bldg. I was told that some of the volunteers were in tears...

Posted by Mark
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 10, 2010 at 12:33 am

Sounds like PAFD did a great job. Yet another case for fire sprinklers - fire alarms wouldn't have been enough if the fire was unwitnessed.

Posted by bookluvr
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 10, 2010 at 10:27 am

Sorry to hear about this. UV light (airing out in the sun) can deodorize smoke odor, but it may not be practical for so many books.
Maybe have a "fire sale" of the books and let the buyers air them out.
Books from the home of a smoker have an odor, as do books that were kept in damp homes.

Posted by Rich
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2010 at 10:30 am

It may be possible to remove the smoke smell from the books by using ozone. This technique is used by disaster restoration companies to de-stink books, clothes, and other items saved from fires. My family experienced this first-hand after everything we owned was exposed to smoke in a moving van fire. The mover hired a company at our destination which let everything sit for several days in a garage with an ozone generator, and they saved hundreds of books and stacks of important papers (and our car as well, which was being transported in the van).

Posted by Scottie Z
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 10, 2010 at 10:39 am

I'm a volunteer with the Friends. After the fire, I removed a few books from the top shelf of my "section" and brought them home. Without mentioning the fire, I asked family members to sniff the books. Given a 2-volume set of Proust, nobody commented on a smell of smoke. Sniffing the pages of a newer book, a couple of people could detect a faint smoky odor. I'm hoping that many of the books can recover from the smoke. With all the beautiful books donated recently it would be awful to lose them.

Posted by bunratty
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 10, 2010 at 11:08 am

I've de-odorized books that were in the homes of smokers by putting them in a plastic shoe box with a half inch of baking soda on the bottom and leaving them over night or longer depending on the severity of the smell and thickness of the book. (Obviously, the book should be placed on something to keep it out of the baking soda.) You could do quite a few books in a Banana box using an oven rack.

Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Hooray, Volunteers!
Hooray, Friends of the Palo Alto Library!

We should be celebrating them instead of worrying about charred computers and potential lawsuits.

These wonderful people selflessly give their time and their hearts to the organization so that we may enjoy a wider, more up-to-date selection of media in more comfortable surroundings.

I have borrowed many, many DVDs that had labels

Posted by Moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm

(continued) . . . indicating that they had been purchased with funds raised by the Friends.

Thank you, thank you, for all that you do.

Posted by Library and Booksale Fan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 10, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Maybe it's time for the City of Palo Alto to provide decent space for the FOPAL booksale! The Friends just gave $300,000 TO the city for its libraries and it's required to rent this fire-hazard "bungalow" FROM the city at substantial cost to FOPAL. At the same time, the city provides well-below-market rates for the Cubberley artist studios and the Palo Alto Lawn Bowling Club. The FOPAL volunteers are great and shouldn't have to worry about working in a structure that's not safe.

Posted by jesse farris
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 11, 2010 at 3:09 am

i am the homeless guy who call the fire department. my name is jesse farris phone number 383-5119. god put us here to help one another. no matter who we are. thank you

Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2010 at 12:40 pm

Today's Daily Post says that Andre Belton called the fire department. Did two homeless guys call the fire department, or are Jesse Farris and Andre Belton the same person, or did at least one of them not call the fire department?

Posted by FOPAL Volunteer
a resident of another community
on Aug 11, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I am a Friends volunteer. We know for certain that Andre Belton was the caller as the Post reported in the follow-up article today.

Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 11, 2010 at 9:49 pm

OK, here comes some very un-PC comments: Slow, dramatic clapping for the homeless guy who called in the library fire. Yes, he saved the day but for gods sake, he is living on a mattress behind the library!

Has anyone thought that all the homeless people camping out at Cubberley is a time bomb just waiting to go off badly? That place is full of unsupervised kids at all hours running in to use the bathrooms that the campers also use. Does it take a genius to figure out that it's just a matter of time before something bad comes out of that?

Is it really an appropriate solution for about a dozen homeless people to be basically living in cars or camping at a public community center used by a high percentage of kids? Why has this been ignored for so long?

Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Palo Parent: how about donating your time to helping supervise the kids who use the bathrooms? That would be a help to the community. Just as Andre Belton helped the community by calling the Fire Dept. as promptly as he did.

In a true community, it shouldn't be a matter of either one set of users or the other.

Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 12, 2010 at 8:14 pm

j: I think you missed my point completely. Why should we have to supervise kids going to use the bathrooms in a public community center? I already volunteer quite a bit of my time coaching two kids sports teams at Cubberley, usually by myself. Should I leave those other kids alone on the field to supervise those needing to use the facilities? I mean, what the heck? Why not open up a bar at Cubberley to serve (no pun intended) those "set of users" as well?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Al
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Palo Parent -

Your attempt to imply that (all) homeless people are a threat to children sounds like you listen to too much right-wing talk radio.

So you volunteer to coach young kids sports teams, and that's all very commendable but there have been hundreds of RECENT documented cases of coaches sexually abusing their charges, including the recent swim case in San Jose. While I'm sure you are a fine coach, how would you feel being painted with the same brush as those scumbags, i.e. coach = abuser???

It's not political correctness at work here, it's called compassion. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

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