Menlo Park apartment fire kills woman, 2 small dogs

One person was killed, one was injured, and two dogs were killed by an apartment fire in Menlo Park early Sunday morning.   

The Menlo Park Fire District said it responded to a reported structure fire with possible occupants inside at 3:17 a.m. at 1017 Madera Ave.     

Responding units found a light haze of smoke coming from two broken living room windows from the two-bedroom unit. Local residents had used extinguishers and a garden hose to try extinguishing the fire from outside.     

Firefighting crews forced entry through the front door and extinguished a small smoldering fire in the living room while two other crews performed search and rescue operations.     

The apartment door of a home fire where a woman died, and two dogs were killed. Another woman is in critical condition after the tragedy.

Jon Johnston, district captain and fire marshal for Menlo Park Fire Protection District said, "Although it was a very minimal amount of fire, it created a lot of toxic smoke and heat that was a contributing factor." 

Johnston said the two women were in their sixties and shared the tragedy could have been prevented. 

He said, "They were smokers, and they removed the smoke alarms, so they were not alerted to the fire." 

Through heavy smoke, firefighters found two victims on the floor in the back bedroom. One victim died from burns and smoke inhalation. Another victim was transported to Stanford University Medical Center in critical condition.     

Two small pet dogs also died in the fire.   

A 17-year-old neighbor was shocked to hear a fire down the block from her family home had a fire that left one dead and one critically injured. She said, "Oh no! That's not good! The fire alarm could have saved their lives." 

She was reflective of the loss of life in what's supposed to be a joyful season.  

She said, "Especially on the holiday, I can’t imagine how the family is doing right now." 

Exterior of Menlo Park apartment building where one died, one critically injured.  (Alice Wertz)

Investigators said the cause of the fire doesn't appear to be suspicious. 

They said there weren't working smoke detectors or alarms in the unit.   

Johnston took this opportunity to remind people to install and test their smoke alarms in all bedrooms, hallways, and each floor of their home. 

KTVU reporter Alice Wertz contributed to this report.