Family loses pets, treasures to house fire 

A San Mateo family is mourning the loss of three pets and major property damage after a kitchen fire spread throughout their Eichler home on Clipper Street in a matter of minutes Wednesday night.

Homeowner Robyn Gralicer said she had left the house to rent the movie "Jackass: Number Two," as her niece and 94-year-old grandfather fried fish on the stove. While she was gone, the pan caught on fire and the fire quickly spread to the kitchen wall and the rest of the home, gutting the main living area and leaving smoke and carbon damage through the rest of Graciler’s home, which is estimated to have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Her grandfather tried to extinguish the flames, but was unable to remove the safety pin on the family’s fire extinguisher because of a small plastic fastener he couldn’t break.

"He couldn’t pull the pin out," Gralicer said.

Within minutes the San Mateo Fire Department was on the scene and the fire was extinguished, but the interior of the home — including antique furniture and years of family photos — was completely destroyed.

San Mateo Battalion Chief John Warren said Eichler homes are especially vulnerable to fire because the open-floor plans allow fire and heat to spread throughout the house quickly.

While Graciler, her niece and grandfather along with two dogs escaped the blaze, the family’s cat Stinker, parrot Loretta and a third dog, Buddy, died.

Gralicer said Buddy, who she called "grandpa’s great protector," died of smoke inhalation despite CPR attempts by fire crews.

"Anytime that we have a chance to save a life — of any species — we will," Warren said. He said the city’s fire crews carry oxygen masks specifically made to fit a dog or cat’s muzzle.

Gralicer said the family spent the night at their neighbor’s house. They’re still trying to figure out what to do next.

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