Two-alarm house fire in Palo Alto

September 30, 2009 1:39:57 PM PDT
Investigators are trying to find what caused an explosion and fire that destroyed a home on Wednesday morning in Palo Alto and left one person injured.

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The homeowner was slightly hurt cut by a piece of glass as he escaped from the burning house. It drew out so many firefighters and such a crowd of neighbors because of the explosion and flames and the reason for it is still a mystery.

"It sounded first almost like an earthquake, but there was no reverberation other than the explosion sound. So we went out and first thing we saw was a column of black smoke. Evidently there was a fireball that went up about 50 feet in air," said Palo Alto resident Judith Dvorak.

Dvorak lives just around the corner from the house fire on Maureen Avenue that rocked the neighborhood awake on Wednesday morning.

"Anyone on either side or close by would really have the adrenaline going this morning," she said.

The resident, whose wife and young child who were not home at the time, called for help at about 8:30 a.m., saying there was an explosion and the house was on fire.

"When the first units arrived, the house was fully engulfed. The ceiling and roof appeared to be already gone, and the fire did breach and start affecting the neighboring home," said PIO for Pal Alto Fire Department and City Emergency manager Barbara Cimino.

The blast shook awake The Liu family next door.

"I was still in bed, and I heard something really loud. I thought somebody like my kids fell on the ground," said next door neighbor Zheng Liu.

The family first only saw smoke, but as soon as the flames started, they got out right away.

"At least our kids are ok, and they're all coming out untouched," said Lui.

But Palo Alto Fire says the homeowner was cut by a piece of glass on his way out and other than that, there were no other injuries.

About 30 firefighters got the flames out within a half hour, but the damage done is extensive, leaving a family without their home and still wondering how this happened.

Two families are displaced now from the burned house, as well as from the house next door-- that one was yellow-tagged, which means limited access to it because of fire damage. The Red Cross is here helping those families out.

Fire investigators expect to be here all day looking into all possibilities, including if there was a gas leak.

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