There was some drama in downtown Menlo Park yesterday morning. It was probably the most action the downtown’s seen in decades:
At 8am I got a call from the Almanac that there was a four-alarm fire in the Peet’s Coffee building on Santa Cruz and University. Cops were diverting traffic and most of the area was cordoned off, but I cut through Fremont Park and hung out in the Drager’s parking lot, shooting away.
11 fire engines and nearly 50 firefighters from all over southern San Mateo county responded to the alarm. The fire was out by the time I arrived, and the rescue crews were resting after the blaze. No one was hurt except for a firefighter who separated his shoulder.
Firefighter Wilbur Womble (great name) has a laugh after the fire is extinguished
Salvaging stuff from the Calla Boutique
The gummy bears made it through unscathed
Rinsing off equipment & firefighters
Some of the tools used to tear down walls and find the source of the fire
Menlo Park Fire District Chief Harold Schapelhouman was very cooperative with the press and gave me a tour of the building.
According to Schapelhouman, the fire started early in the morning in a second-story electrical closet and slowly spread through the walls and floors. They had trouble pinpointing the source of the fire because of the smoke and had to tear apart rooms and offices to find it.
It was pretty enlightening to learn how a particular fire starts and spreads, and how firefighters respond to a particular type of fire. In this case it was a smaller fire, but stubborn because of the way it crept through the walls and floor undetected.
More photos from the fire here.