Transformer explosion triggers five small fires

PALO ALTO, CA - An initial report of a possible airplane crash at the Palo Alto Airport Monday morning turned out instead to be three electrical fires, two in East Palo Alto and one across San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto.

A PG&E power line came down in East Palo Alto, sparking two small brush fires around 11:15 a.m. along San Francisquito Creek. In the same minute, a transformer fire broke out at the nearby Baylands Athletic Center baseball field in Palo Alto, fire officials said.

Authorities said there is no indication that the brush fires in East Palo Alto are related to the transformer fire in Palo Alto, but the cause of each fire is under investigation.

One East Palo Alto fire occurred near the dead-end of O'Connor Street. The slow-burning blaze consumed vegetation in a 40-foot by 100-foot area, Fire Marshal Jon Johnston said. The fire went up about 30 feet to a home's fence line, where cool temperatures and damp conditions likely prevented flames from extending any farther.

The second fire was found at the end of Jasmine Way, Johnston said. Both blazes were extinguished in about 10 minutes.

A PG&E crew was called to respond to the scene, where a power outage affecting 322 customers was reported in the area of Jasmine Way around 11:30 a.m., PG&E spokeswoman Angela Lombardi said. As of 3:20 p.m., power was restored to a majority of the customers except for a few dozen. The cause of the outage is under investigation.

Across the creek, a Palo Alto fire crew was in the middle of wildland fire training near the Baylands Athletic Center baseball field where a transformer caught on fire around 11:15 a.m., interim Fire Chief Geoffrey Blackshire said. The crew quickly extinguished the blaze, which was confined to the transformer.

Despite an early report that a plane had crashed, fire crews determined no aircraft was involved, according to Johnston and Blackshire. No injuries were reported and no evacuation orders were issued for any of the fires.


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