Early-morning fire guts Ventura home

Crews will investigate fire's suspicious origins, police say

A Palo Alto home that was scheduled for a renovation is a total loss after an early morning blaze, a battalion chief said.

Firefighters responded to a report of a blaze at a home on the corner of Matadero Avenue and Orinda Street at about 3:50 a.m., Battalion Chief Niles Broussard said.

When crews arrived, the attic of the single-family home was fully involved, and the integrity of the roof forced firefighters to battle the blaze from the exterior, Broussard said.

The roof eventually collapsed, he said.

Crews were able to knock down the fire around 4:15 a.m., the battalion chief said.

Broussard said crews were still at the scene "working on hot spots," as of 5:55 a.m.

Investigators have determined that the home had no power or gas and, while the home is presumed vacant, Broussard said it hasn't been confirmed that no one was in the home.

The home appeared to be prepped for a renovation, Broussard said.

A next-door home was evacuated as a precaution, but no other structures were damaged in the blaze. No one was injured, Broussard said.

Tomorrow, after any gases that may be present in the structure have had time to dissipate, the Santa Clara County Arson Task Force will perform an investigation with Palo Alto police and fire investigators into the fire's cause, police stated.

Police stated that the fire is suspicious because the home had been vacant for several years and had no utilities services running in it that might spark a fire.


Like this comment
Posted by Kay
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

The neighbors had been worried about this exact fire risk for decades the home has been abandon.

Like this comment
Posted by moo
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2013 at 10:44 am

Yes, I can see why the cause of the fire remains under investigation. . . .
Was the to-be-renovated property insured?
Was there a squatter living in it?

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:14 am

What's a "rood"?

Is that the type of comments that often appear on this site?

Like this comment
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

I live a block away. This house has been an eyesore and a source of vermin and a crime location. Many of us in the neighborhood have regularly called the police, the fire department, sent letters to the absentee owner to no avail. We all agreed it was a disaster waiting to happen. Some of us even cut the mile high dead grass on occasion to reduce fire risk. The back yard was full of debris, stacks of wood and empty paint cans, and the house itself was full of junk. Now we have an expensive and unnecessary fire that someone has to pay for and clean up. Really quite frustrating.

Like this comment
Posted by Ventura Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Yes, this home would have never been ignored, if it were in a different neighborhood. Kind of wonder now how long it will stay, as a burned down home. Hopefully it will be torn down right away, but.... we will see.

Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Insurance fraud?

Like this comment
Posted by Katie
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Thank you PAFD! I am so grateful for our wonderful fire department!!!! I am so glad no one was injured! Thank you for all being safe!

Like this comment
Posted by JustKidding
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm

finally some affordable housing in Palo Alto

Like this comment
Posted by Yay!
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Now someone can come in and build a gaudy home that is bursting at the lot's perimeter. That neighborhood used to be cool!

Like this comment
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2013 at 6:38 pm

The house has been VACANT for over 21 years! Hard to understand why they didn't fix it up to rent or sell given the real estate value.

The owner died June 2013 and there has been some activity in clearing out the house. Lots of junk was stored inside all this time.

Like this comment
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:08 pm

According to the online building permit system, the owners applied for a permit just 7 days ago to demolish the house and rebuild a 2000 SF home.

Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Insurance fraud or they wanted to not pay for demolition

Like this comment
Posted by O
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:40 am

Very good. Please keep adding. Please keep writing. I would like to collect them.

I have also regularly contacted Brian Reynolds, PA Code Enforcement Ofc. I called Adult Protective Services in '06 numerous times, in '11 and as recently as of Friday, Oct. 4th, 2013. I spoke with Matthew Beaux at APS Friday and there's nothing they can do despite all the red flags. I've spoken with Ofc Taber of MVPD, got no where. I've contacted the Mercury News but haven't found the appropriate reporter.

Hoarding and OCD are concomitant mental illnesses as now recognized by DSM V.

To my recollection, the house has been vacant for over 35 years. The 2nd to last tenant was a very nice lady who moved out. Her kids, age 21 or 22 at the time, took over the rental agreement. Soon after, the unit turned into a crack house with a couple of .22 type shootings. The tenants were evicted by the sheriff. They left the insides in deplorable and despicable conditions.

The investigation will continue. The remains of this structure with the unfortunate number of a registered 290 address, should be cleaned up within the month. The neighborhood deserves better and would be very nice to have a wonderful, normal house again.

Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 8, 2013 at 5:16 pm

I also know that this home has been vacant for 35 years. Many years ago, neighbors offered to buy it on at least 2 occasions. It's a shame that there is no ordinance that could force the owners to maintain the property.

I do believe that this situation would not have festered for so long in many other Palo Alto neighborhoods.

Like this comment
Posted by Suspicious
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 9, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I suspect that one of the neighbors was angry about their property values being affected by this run down house, not knowing that the house was going to be demolished and replaced. Doh!

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