Man found dead in Menlo Park house fire

April 27, 2010 3:07:17 PM PDT
In Menlo Park the investigation is underway into an explosion and fire that claimed a life in an exclusive neighborhood overnight.

The home is in a wooded, wealthy neighborhood, with homes fairly spread out and that's what may have led to some confusion in the initial calls for help. Around 1:30 Tuesday morning, 911 dispatchers got a series of calls, ranging from a medical problem to a tree fire, car fire, explosion and then when crews got there, they saw much of the back of the two-story, Berkeley Avenue home in flames.

Most of the roof and second story had already burned away. The fire was under control by two a.m. When firefighters got inside the house, they found a middle-aged man lying in a front bedroom -- not burned, but dead.

"The coroner is on the scene. The coroner is actually removing the deceased gentleman as we speak with the assistance of fire crews in there. And the Sheriff's department has declared that area of the home a crime scene, and there is some other circumstances they'll need to speak to regarding other things that have gone on here in the past," said Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman.

It's turned into a crime scene, based on suspicious factors seen inside. San Mateo County sheriff deputies are familiar with this Berkeley Avenue home -- having come to the residence in the past -- possibly for calls of suicide attempts. That is not necessarily connected to this fatal fire, but an arson and criminal investigation is ongoing.

Neighbors say the resident's girlfriend sometimes stayed over at the house sometimes, but her car is not there today. Firefighters didn't find anyone else inside during their initial search, but will look through the house again later.


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