Mon07282014

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Residential fire triggers interagency response

No one was at home last week when a two-alarm fire broke out at 26890 Alejandro Drive in Los Altos Hills, causing an estimated $500,000 in damages.

According to Santa Clara County Fire Chief Jim Young, the fire was well under way by the time neighbors and cars driving along Interstate 280 took notice of billowing plumes of smoke in the distance. The first emergency services calls came through at 11:32 a.m. March 5.

“There were lots of resources nearby, but we weren’t sure about the location,” said Young of the challenges faced during the interagency response effort involving both Palo Alto and Santa Clara County fire departments.

Despite the hilly terrain and a series of dead-end streets, the Palo Alto battalion chief arrived on the scene of the 3,419-square-foot two-story home 11 minutes after the first call with three engines, a rescue vehicle and a truck. The Santa Clara County Fire Department pulled in shortly after with four engines, a rescue unit, a hazardous materials team, an arson investigator and two additional battalion chiefs.

Crews worked to extinguish the fire by 12:11 p.m., Young said. Both agencies participate in countywide trainings several times a year, efforts that enable the teams to synchronize their response capabilities, equipment compatibility and communications channels.

To ensure that the flames did not rekindle, firefighters returned throughout the day and evening and walked through the premises with a thermal imaging camera to identify any hot spots.

Although Young said nothing suspicious was immediately detected on arrival, an investigation is ongoing to determine the cause of the fire.

A final estimate is currently unavailable, but Young predicted that damages would exceed $500,000 on the home, valued at more than $2 million.

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