A two-alarm fire at 479 Sequoia Avenue Friday evening proved difficult to
extinguish because of some unusual structures adjacent to the burning house,
a fire chief said.
The fire, reported at 6:40 p.m., was initially reported to be a fire on the house's roof, Menlo Park Fire Protection District (MPFPD) Chief Harold Schapelhouman said. When firefighters arrived, they found the roughly 1,100-square-foot house's attic was in flames.
The single-story house has an additional two-story structure separated by a wall behind it, as well as several additional structures, which made fighting the fire difficult for fear it fire could spread to the other structures.
"It had some unique construction styles which helped spread the fire," Schapelhouman said.
He said that investigators were looking to see if the other structures were permitted. He compared the oddly constructed home to a "smaller version of
the Winchester Mystery House," and said he was not convinced it was compliant
with building codes.
"The way in which the structure's built is a little bit suspicious, based on how a normal permitted building would be allowed to be constructed," Schapelhouman said.
Colleen Anderson, who lives not far from the home, said she and other neighbors have long feared the structure could go up in flames at any time.
"That house was just an accident waiting to happen, and that we knew would eventually happen," Anderson told Patch.
Anderson and others also said they worried because the home is located very close to a large transformer.
Firefighters managed to contain the fire by 7:15 p.m., but the front single-story structure sustained damage to the roof and attic area, and the entire house was doused in water. The structures all shared utilities, which had to be cut off.
Between 10 and 15 people were living in the various structures, and all were temporarily displaced and are being assisted by the Red Cross.
There were no reports of injuries, Schapehouman said.
Parts of Sequoia Avenue were blocked off past 9 p.m. Friday evening, and some residents were not allowed back into their homes for a few hours, Anderson told Patch.
- Bay City News Service contributed to this report.
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