Following reports of explosion, two sent to hospital with 'serious' burns

Incident at Park Plaza Apartments in Palo Alto occurred when workers were repairing an elevator

Two workers suffered serious burns Tuesday morning while they were repairing an elevator in the Park Plaza Apartments building at 2865 Park Blvd. in Palo Alto, according to Palo Alto Deputy Fire Chief Kevin McNally.

The men were transported to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with injuries that although "critical" are not deemed life-threatening, McNally said.

Palo Alto's fire inspector and a staff member from the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health are investigating the incident.

The employees, who worked for American Industrial Coatings, were applying a fire-proofing material in an elevator pit and a fire ignited when a light bulb popped, Frank Polizzi, a spokesman for the California Department of Industrial Relations, Cal/OSHA, said on Wednesday.

The incident occurred at about 10:40 a.m. Tuesday, as the pair were repairing an elevator in the building. Witnesses reported hearing an explosion, although the fire department staff has not been able to confirm those reports.

Firefighters found the injured workers in the elevator shaft in the building's basement.

An active fire was not immediately visible, but fire crews decided to evacuate the buildings, which house both residents as well as companies. Fire crews from Palo Alto and Mountain View were called to assist, and the power to the building was turned off.

Crews did not find any fire, and no smoke or fire damage could be seen on the exterior of the distinctive multistory building, which features yellow and red panels interspersed with corrugated metal siding.

"It appears that whatever happened was confined to the elevator," McNally said.

Evacuees were allowed back into the building at about 12:10 p.m.

Park Boulevard was closed to traffic between Page Mill Road and Olive Avenue as fire personnel responded to the incident, but the road has reopened.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


8 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 24, 2019 at 11:06 am

At this point, we all know absolutely nothing whatsoever about the specifics of this incident. But, it serves as a reminder that the work that electricians do matters. Sometimes things like this happen when (high current) wiring, or design, mistakes are made during an initial installation, and, are not discovered until later when a repair or change is made.

11 people like this
Posted by Les
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 24, 2019 at 11:36 am

I do some home repairs myself but I’m terrified of electricity and won’t do anything more than replace a switch plate or a lightbulb. I have the utmost respect for electricians and those who work around electricity and the work they do. I hope these men are OK but having them at Valley Med, where there is a great burn unit, makes me said only because it implies significant injuries. Godspeed, gentlemen.

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

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

From Tokyo to Cupertino: Afuri Ramen's first California location debuts tonight
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 3,216 views

Disposing of Disposables
By Sherry Listgarten | 15 comments | 1,593 views

Couples Counseling, Al Pacino Style
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,343 views

Anonymous Sources: Facebook and YouTube suppressing important questions and discussion
By Douglas Moran | 1 comment | 171 views