Bird hits power line, sparking Stanford Dish fire

Palo Alto firefighter suffers minor foot injury while battling the blaze

A bird that flew into a power line sparked a grass fire at the Stanford Dish Tuesday night that threatened a structure and left one firefighter with a minor injury, a Palo Alto deputy fire chief said.

Crews from Palo Alto, Mountain View and Santa Clara County responded to the open space area around 9:45 p.m. initially on a reported structure fire, but the call was quickly changed to a grass fire, Deputy Fire Chief Catherine Capriles said.

The fire took place in a restricted area blocked from the public, not far from the Frenchmans Road and Genora gates off of Junipero Serra Boulevard, Capriles said.

The Palo Alto Fire Department had keys to access the gates and entered the property up Reservoir Road, eventually going off the path, with four-wheel drive vehicles, Capriles said.

Firefighters knocked down the blaze shortly after 10:30 p.m., she said.

The fire threatened a structure at the top of a hill, but firefighters gained control over the blaze and prevented it from spreading, Capriles said. Crews were unable to find out what type of building it was in the dark.

One Palo Alto firefighter was transported to Stanford Hospital for a minor foot injury, according to Capriles, who added that it was "part of the dangers of walking in this environment at night." She didn't have an update on his condition Wednesday morning, but expects he'll take time off from the job to recover.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., the Palo Alto Fire Department said on Twitter that they were mopping up, which was expected to last for several hours, and cutting a line around the fire's perimeter. No damage was reported.

Stanford maintenance workers routinely mow at the property, which helped deter the fire from spreading, the deputy chief said.

Cal Fire units were also called for assistance, but quickly canceled when firefighters on scene gained control over the incident, Capriles said.

Cameron Gray tweeted a photo showing smoke coming from the fire visible for miles.

The damaged line belonged to PG&E, who was at the scene Wednesday morning along with a fire investigator, according to Capriles.

The Dish sits on the Stanford foothills known for a popular hiking and jogging trail. The area also hosts academic programs and wildlife in addition to sections dedicated to environmental protection and habitat conservation.

All trails at the Dish were closed until about 10:30 a.m., according to an alert from Stanford University's Department of Public Safety.


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14 people like this
Posted by Sunny
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm

Is the bird okay?

3 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Just got back from hiking the Dish, all gates are open.

Story makes it seem like a huge fire/production, not the case. The small area that burnt is view able from the loop near the small dish that usually aims straight up.

3 people like this
Posted by Friar Turck
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 23, 2017 at 2:36 pm

The bird was well done. Well done bird.

1 person likes this
Posted by Peninsula Commuter
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Dish and open space OK, bird No Good. Need to find a replacement bird.

1 person likes this
Posted by SuperD
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 23, 2017 at 4:21 pm

A lawsuit should be filed against the estate of the bird to recover the costs associated with fighting this fire and repairing the PG&E power line. Thanks to the fire fighters for getting this under control so further damage was prevented.

7 people like this
Posted by Peninsula Commuter
a resident of another community
on Aug 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm

All joking aside, glad no people were hurt and no property destroyed. This could have ended up much worse.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

Check out the photo of this hawk/snake combo that caused a fire this week in Montana: Web Link

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

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