News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Early-Morning Fire of Suspicious Origin Destroys Vacant Home
Contact : Brian Philip, Detective Sergeant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- An early-morning fire at a vacant home destroyed the residence.  There are no known casualties, but emergency personnel consider the fire to be of suspicious origin and are actively investigating what occurred.

On Monday, October 7, 2013, at about 3:51 a.m., our 24-hour dispatch center received a call from a passerby of smoke coming from a residence in the 200 block of Matadero Avenue.  Personnel from the Palo Alto Fire Department and officers from the Palo Alto Police Department responded immediately and found the home fully engulfed in flames.  Fire personnel set up defensive operations from the exterior of the residence.  Firefighters were able to get the blaze extinguished within 25 minutes, and in so doing, successfully prevented the fire from spreading or damaging any additional homes.

The preliminary investigation revealed that the home has been vacant for several years, and as such, did not have any water, gas, or electrical service running to it.  While there were no initial indications that anyone was inside during the fire, emergency crews have not yet been able to fully inspect the interior of the home due to the structure being unstable and routine off-gassing of typical combustible materials found inside all homes.  A more complete inspection of the home will occur tomorrow, after those gases have had a chance to dissipate and it is safe for crews to enter and thoroughly inspect the property.

The Santa Clara County Arson Task Force will be performing a joint investigation alongside investigators from the Palo Alto Police Department and the Palo Alto Fire Department into the cause and origin of the fire.  This is a routine cooperative effort for fires of suspicious origin.  This fire is considered to be of suspicious origin because the home was supposed to be unoccupied, and because there was no obvious possible source of ignition (since there was no gas or electrical service running to it).

The first-alarm assignment from the Palo Alto Fire Department included Engine 5, Engine 4, Engine 6, Engine 2, Truck 6, Medic 2, and Battalion 6 (for a total of 18 fire personnel).

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call our 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413.  Anonymous tips can be e-mailed to or sent via text message or voice mail to 650-383-8984.