Week in review

 

Five-alarm fire guts homes

A five-alarm structure fire broke out in the foothills of Menlo Park Thursday evening, causing more than $1 million of damage to three large homes bound by a single roof and shared walls, Menlo Park Fire Protection District Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

Firefighters responded to the blaze reported at 15 Susan Gale Court at about 5:15 p.m. and found flames in the attic space of the middle residence.

Schapelhouman said the three single-family, multi-story units are each between 2,500 and 2,700 square feet and that two of the units are almost a complete loss. The third unit sustained major damage before the blaze was contained at about 7:45 p.m.

"We probably haven’t had a fire of this magnitude in a structure area in about a decade,’’ Schapelhouman said.

The fire was difficult to combat because the three units share a roof and have common walls, and the fire started in the middle unit, said Schapelhouman.

Additionally, he referred to the neighborhood where the fire burned as a "high-fire-danger area’’ because there was a risk of flames spreading through the foothills.

Schapelhouman said the fire caused between $1 million and $1.5 million in damage to the structure.

City pays man shot by cops

An innocent bystander accidentally struck by a San Mateo police officer’s bullet during a late-morning shootout nearly two years ago received a $210,000 settlement from the city of San Mateo.

Sean Moran was shot in the hip during a shootout between police and an armed robbery suspect at the Central County Mental Health Facility on La Selva Street July 20, 2007. Police killed Adam Ramirez, 43, after he led them on a high-speed chase and then fired on the officers after allegedly saying goodbye to his wife, who worked in the building.

Moran was waiting for a doctor’s appointment when he was shot.

"We respect the police. This is a reasonable settlement in light of the circumstances,” said Peter Labrador, Moran’s attorney.

The San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office found the actions of the officers were justified that day.

Moran suffers significant scarring from the incident and the bullet is still encapsulated in his hip, Labrador said.

New school breaks ground

Four years of construction delays ended Wednesday as school officials broke ground on a new 450-student Redwood Shores elementary school with an aim to end overcrowding.

Voters approved a $25 million bond measure in 2005 to build a second elementary school in Redwood Shores, slated to open next fall on a 7-acre parcel among a 109-acre portion of wetlands. Department of State Architect approvals delayed construction and pushed back the school’s original opening date. Instead, a groundbreaking was held for the 16-classroom school Wednesday night.

"This is really exciting,” said Superintendent Emerita Orta-Camilleri. "We’re moving toward a culmination point. It’s not only exciting for our students, but for our community.”

Once completed, the school is slated to be 41,296 square feet including: Administration and teacher work area; 5,244 square feet set aside for a library and a learning center, of which 1,439 square feet will be dedicated to the library; and a 3,749-square-foot multipurpose room, which includes one music/science classroom, according to the district office. Of the 16 classrooms, 12 will be a typical 960 square feet and four will be 1,200 square feet. Larger classrooms will be used for kindergarten classes.

Mayor not seeking re-election

After 10 years as San Bruno mayor, Larry Franzella announced he will not be seeking another term citing changes to his business.

Franzella, 54, has been mayor since 1999 and served on the City Council for eight years prior from 1987-1995. Councilman Jim Ruane expressed interest in running for the position, said Councilwoman Irene O’Connell. Others interested are Robert Biasotti and former candidate Miguel Araujo.

Franzella is president of Prudential California Realty in San Bruno, a company with more than 100 employees and satellite offices at both Serramonte and Tanforan shopping centers. Changes to his business’ organizational structure and new responsibilities prompted the decision, he said.

"This seems to be the right time for me and it is clear that the demands of my business, particularly in these challenging times, needs more of me, both in terms of time and presence,” Franzella said in a prepared statement.

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