https://paloaltoonline.com/square/print/2021/09/15/large-fire-hits-home-in-old-palo-alto-neighborhood


Town Square

Large fire hits home in Old Palo Alto neighborhood

Original post made on Sep 15, 2021

Firefighters battled a large fire at a home in the Old Palo Alto neighborhood on Tuesday night, which led to evacuations.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 15, 2021, 9:46 AM

Comments

Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 11:47 am

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Are you SURE that is a photo from last night? I along with many other neighbors were at the scene, and no flames were visible after approximately 10 minutes.

This was one of Larry Page's numerous homes on the block.

Also it was a THREE alarm fire. There were approximately 20 trucks and engines there for approximately 2 hours. I and many others asked the firefighters how many fire vehicles and first responders were there. Approximately 20 vehicles at the height; approximately 50 first responders.

[Portion removed.]

For all of us watching, it appeared to be an extremely expensive and disruptive over-reaction to a billionaire whose excessive property holdings appeared to be *potentially* at risk. It was an extraordinarily surreal -- and distressing -- sight.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Old PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 12:47 pm

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I too was stunned at how many fire and police sped past my house on the way to this fire, totally ignoring stop signs. Do multiple police cars really need to speed full-throttle, metal-to-the-petal, through stop signs? I get the fire engines, but more than 10 police cars?

My reaction was also that it must be nice to be a billionaire.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 2:12 pm

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Jesus - we going to make it an issue about billionaire privilege? This was a fire in a neighborhood where houses are not that far apart *during a drought.* And while the fire itself wasn't as visible from the Bryant street side, the glow behind the house was very visible.

There was an equivalent response to a fire down the street years ago. And no, that house wasn't owned by Larry Page.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2021 at 2:18 pm

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It will be interesting to know the cause of the fire.

It would also be interesting to know what was going on there. Many of us heard the explosion. If this is an empty house, possibly owned by Google, with people working there during the day and nobody there at 8 pm, then what were they working on?

I am so pleased that nobody was hurt and the fire didn't spread. If this was a home with a family living in it, we would have assumed injuries and loss of all belongings.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2021 at 2:26 pm

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I totally agree with Me 2. It doesn't matter who owns the home. My elderly mom lives on Bryant in Old PA, and she was very concerned for everyone. So was I. How sad that money is the focus when a house is on fire. And even sadder that residents in Old PA are complaining about other people having money. This isn't about money. I'm glad no one was hurt.


Posted by We Are The People
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2021 at 3:19 pm

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Very strange?
All the post above noted regarding all the Fire engines an Police Cars? But no one mentioned The Menlo Park Fire Dept racing also down towards that direction? Hmmm.
This doesn't Sound like "Money-Hating"? It sounds more like "Nothing else to do, Much"?


Posted by funky
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 4:48 pm

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Menlo Park, Palo Alto, and Mountain View all have an agreement that they will respond when needed. By the fire departments cooperating it allows better management of resources. Let’s not ding the fire department. It was a major fire and it was pretty much all hands on deck.


Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 15, 2021 at 4:48 pm

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Three issues:

1. Is that area allowed for business?
2. Why the explosion? If not gas, what else?
3. Too bad, there goes all of our conserved water... Will Larry pay for this?


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 4:56 pm

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[Portion removed.]

This neighborhood is zoned RESIDENTIAL. I did not find any use permit on record that allows [portion removed] use [of] this residential house as a commercial office - whether for nonprofit workers or otherwise. Such a zoning violation has statutory penalties of $500 per violation per day. Can we expect the City of Palo Alto to follow up on this and collect the fees [portion removed.]?


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 5:09 pm

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[Post removed. Successive posts by same person are not permitted.]


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 15, 2021 at 5:45 pm

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Thank you, Rebecca Eisenberg, for your relevant questions.
I question the cause of the fire and the huge response which was costly to us regular folks (highly taxed PA residential taxpayers).
I do question the business use of a residence in an R-1 neighborhood. Informal arrangement? [Portion removed.]
Did they have a business permit for this location (house) and was it insured for business use?


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 5:47 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

Also, given that the property is owned by a commercial entity (whether nonprofit or otherwise), and was being used as an office, and given that Palo Alto taxpayers paid overtime for dozens of first responders (and their equipment) to protect the owners from property damage, the address is not a matter of personal privacy.

[Portion removed.] Please know that when someone does something in view of others, those actions are not private. Additionally when someone violates local law and ordinances (zoning) and/or uses city services at disproportionate rates (especially in relation to what that person/entity has contributed towards those services), those matters are of legitimate public interest and are not "private."


Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 6:12 pm

Rebecca Eisenberg is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 6:14 pm

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Someone in the neighborhood has a bit too much time on her hands.


Posted by Derek G
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 15, 2021 at 6:59 pm

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According to the Santa Clara County Assessor website, over $128,000 in property taxes were paid on 2175 Bryant in 2020/21. Web Link


Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 15, 2021 at 7:30 pm

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@Rebecca
Thank you for taking the time to look into the question of the ownership of this property. Also the existence of Palo Alto’s code violation of $500 for every day the home was being illegally used for offices.

Given the city management’s track record of weak and ineffective code violation enforcement, if this is indeed an illegal use of the house which has now been brought to the public’s attention, let’s hope the city manager and his staff follow up. Better still, collect the full amount of the fine that is owed.

In this case particularly important as with Palo Alto’s shortage of housing we should not be encouraging the conversion of homes to offices by sending the message city hall is willing to look the other way.


Posted by maditalian_1492
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 8:13 pm

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People need to step back and calm down. Be thankful that no one was injured and that the firefighters kept the flames from spreading. I'm happy the folks in the red trucks got there as quickly as they did.

I think that a certain commenter might be trying to whip up a hornet's nest. There must have been a good reason why the moderator edited or deleted some of your comments.


Posted by funky
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2021 at 8:26 pm

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If this property was indeed owned by Larry Page or Google, why weren’t they using their Nest smoke detectors?? The Nest would have notify someone via wifi that there was smoke detected. They either were not installed or were expired. (I got rid of mine as I didn’t need the carbon monoxide detector and they disable both the smoke and CO after 7 or 10 years.) Somebody isn’t eating their own dog food!


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 15, 2021 at 8:36 pm

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I think Rebecca and MJH raise some important issues, esp. "Given the city management’s track record of weak and ineffective code violation enforcement, if this is indeed an illegal use of the house which has now been brought to the public’s attention, let’s hope the city manager and his staff follow up. Better still, collect the full amount of the fine that is owed."

How long did we, the taxpayers, have to push for the city to start collecting fines from the developer at the Edgewood Shopping Center instead of pushing the tax burdens and service cuts on to us?

Guess it depends on which way the money flows and who's funding what.

Note that a SCC judge just ordered the city to refund $12,600,000 of excessive rates charged to the city's gas utility customers -- aka US! -- and not to seek a new trial because it misused the money collected.

And now our "leaders" may spend more of OUR money stalling and appealing! Plaintiff's legal fees are a reported $3,000,000 to date. We need to know how much the city's legal fees are for this and whether this continued stalling is money well spent at a time when our libraries still aren't fully open.

Attention must be paid.


Posted by AaronA
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2021 at 10:28 pm

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Some people commenting need to educate yourselves on FD operations before you jump to conclusions. The simple truth is the home is large and old. The volume of fire crews found upon arrival dictated multiple alarms, easily a 2nd or 3rd alarm level. Agreements with surrounding FD agencies is why there were other departments at the scene and covering PA fire stations while PAFD units were at the fire. The FD does not send more units to an emergency based on who owns or lives in property. There was no “paid overtime for dozens of first responders” Crews that responded were already on duty that night at their stations when the fire occurred. Older buildings of that era of construction, especially large ones will require more crews. Crews will be working harder and longer in that type of house. Houses of that type/construction will present unique challenges to firefighters operating at the scene. Fortunately no one was injured or worse at this fire, and the fire was contained to the one address. Leave the conspiracy theories to Hollywood.


Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2021 at 10:35 pm

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I think the fire department, like Santa Claus, should check to see if home owners are naughty or nice before putting out fires at their homes. Larry has been naughty! No fire protection for you! We must save our trucks and water for those who deserve it more!


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2021 at 8:18 am

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I would imagine that most of the homes in Palo Alto have been used as offices in the past 18 months. Many have been used as schools and day care centers too.

Saying that, they are probably still used as homes.

I wondered sometime ago about the legality of having say a couple of coworkers meeting in one home that is bigger rather than each working in their own home where children are doing school or spouse doing the same makes for poor availability of table space or internet strength for multiple workers in the home.

However, my main thoughts are why should a house that is empty explode. Gas explosions do happen of course, but do they happen when a house is empty and presumably the gas is not being used at the time?

Anyway, this fire sounds much more unusual than other house fires and it is natural to ask questions. Thank you PAPD and others for your speedy work in getting this fire out and so pleased nobody was hurt.


Posted by dontliveinCA
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2021 at 12:25 pm

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I hope this website will do an update on this.....particularly interested if this was being used for business purposes rather than residential.


Posted by Mirriam LaPorte
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2021 at 12:48 pm

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Ms. Eisenberg is on point...overly wealthy Palo Alto corporate types residing in our neighborhoods need to take more responsibility for their negligence and oversights.

The world does not revolve around their narcissistic egos and vast dollar signs.


Posted by Cherjo
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2021 at 5:18 pm

Cherjo is a registered user.

There was another residential fire on Bryant Street a few blocks away recently as well. In the 2400 block, the second house from the corner of Oregon Expressway. It also happened in the middle of the night and is close enough to my home that I would have woken from the Fire Trucks without sirens. They were very quiet. I woke to a yard of Ashes and had no idea why until I drove by that house. I hope the smell isn’t more than just the smoke and ashes.


Posted by paheidi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 16, 2021 at 6:14 pm

paheidi is a registered user.

It’s hard to understand anyone complaining about the response to this fire, especially as we witness the ongoing damage of fires in California. The thought that firefighters would wait to see who owns a property before deciding their level of response seems ludicrous. Unless there’s substantial evidence to support a statement like this, perhaps it’s best to wait for more information. I’m grateful for the responders, their success in protecting the neighborhood, and that no one was injured.


Posted by Seer
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2021 at 6:28 pm

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People should be able to run small offices and biz in houses or mansions -- even immortal billionaires. Fires should not be means tested.

Hope this clarifies everything.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 16, 2021 at 11:32 pm

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Umm there’s something called zoning and business use.


Posted by Anna Delacroix
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 17, 2021 at 9:30 am

Anna Delacroix is a registered user.

Does the City of Palo Alto cater to the wealthy elite by allowing certain latitudes?

The former Roller and Hapgood site purchased by Marissa Mayer and used as her own private Commonwealth Club immediately
comes to mind.

The nouveau riche and blatantly arrogant are radically altering the former and fading 'down to earth' vibe of this community.


Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2021 at 10:09 am

Leland J. is a registered user.

Only in Palo Alto can people actually complain about a fire department doing its job too well! As if Larry Page or whoever has some secret bat phone to the fire or police department. The innuendo and conspiracy theories here are on a QAnon level.

Be careful people. If you keep complaining about the cops and FD they will no longer respond when you call 911 to report the “suspicious characters” with garden tools idling on your lawns.

BTW your homes are all worth 5 or 10 million dollars because of people like Larry Page. If that bothers you then please sell for less when you move away.


Posted by Anna Delacroix
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 17, 2021 at 10:25 am

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How did Larry Page contribute to the escalation of Palo Alto residential real estate?

By creating instant millionaires who eventually decided to reside here?

If so, things were better before most of them arrived.



Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2021 at 10:27 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

This jealousy of our neighbors' success is really unbecoming for Palo Alto, especially from long time residents. These "nouveau riche" are subsidizing your property tax, thanks to Prop 13. You should be happy they are around.

As for this BS around doing business in a house. I suppose that Steve Jobs should have been fined for having his walks in the neighborhood to talk business? Now that people are working from home, should they be fined as well?

You guys need to get a life.


Posted by Anna Delacroix
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 17, 2021 at 10:36 am

Anna Delacroix is a registered user.

Not jealousy...just contempt towards those who live by two sets of rules.

One for them and another for the average PA citizen/resident.

No fan of the late Steve Jobs either.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2021 at 10:58 am

Me 2 is a registered user.

Contempt?

I do not think that word means what you think it means.


Posted by Anna Delacroix
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 17, 2021 at 11:43 am

Anna Delacroix is a registered user.

Thank you for your Merriam Webster inspired insights.

Contempt is contempt especially when it comes to the wealthy & arrogant who live by their own set of rules.

Add Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Marissa Mayer (among others) to the list as well.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2021 at 12:13 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

To Rebecca

If it had been your family's home, or the house next to your family's home, perhaps you would have a very different perspective.

This post--completely lacking compassion for the people in the neighborhood who probably were grateful for a fast and robust response and accusing people without supporting facts --is inappropriate.

As someone who lives on the other side of town in a much more modest neighborhood, I am glad the PAFD gets to burning homes fast and in numbers. I am pretty sure they didn't check to see who the owner was when the alarm went off. They just don't work that way. I am thankful that no other homes were affected. Larry Page or not, I'm glad no one was hurt, including our valued firefighters.




Posted by Ryan
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2021 at 1:58 pm

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When there's a fire, it's a fire. It doesn't matter who owns the house.


Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 17, 2021 at 2:05 pm

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"Contempt is contempt especially when it comes to the wealthy & arrogant who live by their own set of rules.

Add Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, and Marissa Mayer (among others) to the list as well."

LOL.


Posted by Anna Delacroix
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 17, 2021 at 4:21 pm

Anna Delacroix is a registered user.

LOL alongside with you as even progressive 'aoc' has embraced capitalism and avarice with her $30.00 T-shirts that carry the message depicted on her designer evening gown at the gala Met opening..."Tax the Rich."

A $1000.00 handbag completed her ensemble.

Call it 'Living in the USA.'


Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2021 at 4:46 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

Some on this thread are arguing that one of the main problems with Palo Alto is the rich people. I don't know about that, but I do think this thread shows that we have a real problem with smug Puritanism and the need to blame others as well. You think Larry or Marissa is the problem? Maybe. I don't know. But look in the mirror too.


Posted by Ryan
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 17, 2021 at 5:16 pm

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@ Me 2

Haha so true. To the people here who are filled with jealousy: Whose taxes do you think are paying for all the nice things in Palo Alto? I'll give you a hint. It's not your taxes, it's the successful people's taxes. If you don't want successful people in your neighborhood, try moving to a different city?


Posted by Registered User
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2021 at 5:53 pm

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We lived several blocks away on Bryant back when 1950s ranch houses could be bought for low-to-mid five-figured sums. Although the house is no longer there, the neighbors behind on Colorado and next door on Bryant were so close to us that, had a fire broken out in any one of those houses, we'd have hated for the fire department to consider the owner's financial status before deciding to put the fire out. Kudos to all the first responders.


Posted by marc665
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2021 at 5:57 pm

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In response to the question of whether anyone would fine the owner for doing anything not zoned for the location:

Given that the city has NEVER held Castilleja or anyone one else responsible for violating use permits or zoning restrictions, why would the city do anything about this property?

/marc


Posted by It.is.what.it.is
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2021 at 7:40 pm

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Phew, finally made it to the end of the thread. I grew up here in Palo Alto. Yes, there is a benefit to learning to analyze but sometimes the negative is overthinking. I really don't care if he used it as an office. As stated by others, many do this. As long as it doesn't affect others with noise or excessive cars, let them be.

I would rather there be an ordinance about the trespassing of dogs on school campuses and private property for the purpose of defecating. THAT is an issue that affects more people, such as those with lawns for their children to play on or schools where students sit on the lawn at lunchtime or run in P.E. class or play at recess. If dog feces is okay, then the owners should pick it up with their bare hands. Instead, the children sit in it, step in it, or their hands fall on it. Sure, the feces can be picked up, but is the grass clean? Would you still put your hand on the grass where the feces was? Stratford has it right by locking their gates after school hours.


Posted by Anna Delacroix
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 18, 2021 at 8:11 am

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Someone should invent a rechargeable dog poop picker-upper that is built along the lines of a Dustbuster but powerful enough with wet-vac capabilities.

These inconsiderate dog-walker types
could then wear them on their belts in a holdster and ideally, the vac would discharge a disinfectant upon shut-off.

Something like this could be easily designed and manufactured.

The PACC could then pass an
ordinance that all dog owners and professional dog walkers are
required to have one when they and
their pooches are out in public.

Easily affordable and besides, the
extremely wealthy Palo Alto 'movers and shakers' are rarely seen walking their dogs anyway.

They simply hire others to handle the mundane tasks.




Posted by Leland J.
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 21, 2021 at 1:10 pm

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Only took 45 posts for someone to blame Castilleja for all our problems! Palo Alto gonna Palo Alto…


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 21, 2021 at 5:32 pm

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Any updates on this? Do they know the cause of the explosion(s)? Was a family displaced?


Posted by Annies biped
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 23, 2021 at 12:01 pm

Annies biped is a registered user.

Bravo to the firefighters who put out the blaze in the house. Thank you for being responsive, for taking charge and extinguishing the fire. Please don't listen to the noise being generated by a few people. My guess is that the vast majority of Palo Alto residents are happy to hear that fires are brought under control, that homes and people are saved. We really don't care what the financial circumstances of the homeowners are. We care that fires are put out, that neighbors and neighborhoods are made safe. Thank you Palo Alto Fire Department for your hard work!