Two workers suffer burns at Palo Alto building explosion, fire

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Two workers suffered burns in a small fire at a building in Palo Alto Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

Firefighters first responded to the mixed-use building at Park Boulevard and Page Mill Road at 10:40 a.m. to reports of a fire alarm. 

The two workers were making repairs to an elevator when materials in the area caught on fire, possibly causing a small explosion, according to Deputy Fire Chief Kevin McNally.

Their injuries are not considered life-threatening and they have been transported to the hospital.

McNally said investigators are on scene trying to determine the cause of the fire. The building was evacuated and no other injuries have been reported.

“The fire was in an elevator shaft. They’re doing work on vapor guard. And one of the workers had mixed the wrong chemicals and there was a flash fire,” said witness Maria Alonso.

The property is home to 82-apartment units and six commercial suites. Some business owners complain there have been problems and ongoing repair work on the elevators. Managers said work done on Monday was to add a protective layer to the metal components. 

“We were doing retro-coating. It’s a resin coating that you do to vapor guard basically, so that if you have any kind of water or anything. Because this is subterranean, [and this acts as a protectant],” said Susan McKay, the building manager.

The blast and fire activated fire alarms and sprinklers, and forced people onto surrounding sidewalks. 

Police have closed off Park Boulevard between Page Mill Road and Olive Avenue.

The fire scene was secure about 90 minutes after the first alarm. The fire marshal is investigating what sparked the coating materials and caused them to ignite in flames.

KTVU's Jesse Gary contributed to this report.