East Palo Alto Veterans Affairs group relocated after fire at care facility 

After being displaced by a Monday afternoon fire that ravaged an East Palo Alto Veterans Affairs group care home, 11 veterans have since been temporarily relocated to a facility in Menlo Park.

Though none of the men were injured during the blaze, several of them lost irreplaceable items.

“A lot of these guys didn’t get their possessions back,” Menlo Park fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said. “And that’s hard to see.”

All 11 veterans have been safely transferred to the Veterans Affairs Menlo Park Division.

“These guys had some stability in their lives,” said Irvin Goodwin, who manages the nonprofit Homeless Veterans Emergency Housing Facility located on the grounds of the VA’s Menlo Park Division, citing that some of them had jobs and personal belongings such as TVs and furniture. “They know this isn’t the end of the world.”

The two-alarm blaze that engulfed the group care home at 1208 Bay Road started at about 4:40 p.m., and firefighters engaged in a 35-minute battle. The fire is believed to have been accidentally started by a veteran in the facilities kitchen. Investigators were still on the scene Tuesday examining the start of the blaze, Schapelhouman said. “No one is homeless, no one is hurt,” Goodwin said. “Not even a scratch or a scrape.”

Goodwin said the fire was started by a “cooking accident” and “just got out of control.”

Goodwin stressed that the home had multiple fire extinguishers and smoke detectors.

Schapelhouman said the blaze was “highly problematic” due to the awkward structure of the 5,000-square-foot, two-story building.

Despite the inferno, one veteran went back inside the burning house and helped another veteran with a broken foot climb out of the second-story window, Goodwin said.

aterrazas@sfexaminer.com

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