Pleasanton house fire causes about $200,000 in damages

Touriga Drive blaze starts in garage, spreads to roof

A house fire on Touriga Drive in Pleasanton Sunday caused about $200,000 in damage.

Joe Testa of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department said the fire caused about $200,000 in damage to the home.

Firefighters reached the home at 5:53 p.m. to find a fire in the garage, extinguishing the bulk of the fire in about 15 minutes. But flames in and below the roof of the garage challenged

firefighters for another 75 minutes.

The fire got between an older wood shake roof and the metal roof decking above the shakes. Also, the wood supporting the roof caught fire and firefighters had to contend with the potential for the roof to collapse, keeping firefighters from reaching burning areas.

When firefighters initially arrived, the family was outside and let officials know everyone got out safely. Fire officials said there were no injuries to firefighters, pets or civilians.

A smoldering cloth in the garage may have caused the fire.

A total of 21 firefighters from the LPFD and Alameda County Fire Departments worked at the scene, Testa said. The Pleasanton Police Department also was at the scene and assisted with crowd control, traffic control and a fire investigation. Paramedics Plus Ambulance was at the scene and checked the residents to make sure there were no injuries.

Keith Burbank, Bay City News, contributed to this story.

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Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm

Roofer left old wood shake roof and covered it with a new metal roof? This is city code? No comment from Fire chief???

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 12, 2015 at 1:32 pm

I've heard of up to 3 layers of roofing material on a roof as being ok but I'm not a contractor. Any roofers out there, please chime in.

Glad to hear there were no injuries but it's going to be a big hassle to deal with for that family - happy new year, right?

1 person likes this
Posted by Wayne
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 12, 2015 at 7:38 pm

Gerard Steel Tile installed over existing wood shakes is approved by most all cities and meets code. I've been a roofer/ roofing contractor for over 18 years. I personally have never been a fan of this procedure. I have turned down jobs because if this. It's the homeowners choice and in the end, only saves you roughly $1000-$1500 depending in roof size. Not a good choice. My sympathy to these homeowners. Glad they got out safe.

Like this comment
Posted by Attic fires are difficult in any case
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:31 am

If a fire gets up into the attic,
it is hard to fight in any case.

Most fires start below, but the fire tends to go up.

But under any metal roof it is much harder,
because it takes more time to ventilate, to let the smoke and heat out.
Metal roofs over an older roof are very common. But wood singles or shakes are the worst, because the dry thin wood is so combustible.

In Livermore, all buildings built after about 1985 have fire sprinklers.
Homes have special more attractive and more sensitive Residential Sprinklers, served by the domestic water. Often the pipe is a special high temperature rated orange plastic, copper, or steel.
Usually no sprinklers in the attic, or perhaps just a couple of "token" sprinklers,though the pipe often runs up there.

But if you automatically control or extinguish the fire below, it probably won't get into the attic, and hopefully, there are no people up there.
Sprinklers are operated by exposure to heat (NOT smoke), and usually only one or sometimes two activate. (Not like in some movies!) Less water than a typical rainstorm.

All new residential buildings in California, including houses, apartments, motels, hotels, care facilities since 2012 are required to be fire sprinklered.

It is possible to retro fit an existing house with sprinklers,
more cost effective for a one story building with an attic, or during a remodel when ceilings are open.

James Art
Fire Protection Engineer

1 person likes this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:40 am

James - good info. Something for all of us to think about who live in older homes.

Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 13, 2015 at 9:47 am

@James Art

There is a very well known home renovation expert named Mike Holmes (has his own TV show and I've actually bought some of his books at Home Depot) who claims that residential fire sprinkler systems are NOT a good idea. He says that some of the problems with residential sprinkler systems are that they are not effective against kitchen grease fires and, in fact, can make the fire situation worse by spreading the flames, that they need to be regularly checked and maintained, and that they significantly raise the risk of water damage to a house. He suggests instead putting more emphasis on having and maintaining smoke and CO2 detectors, fire extinguishers, and promoting the use of more flame-retardant materials in building. Here's an article by him on the subject:

"Sprinkler systems may be more trouble than they're worth", The Globe and Mail web site:
Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Do Read the Article
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 13, 2015 at 11:43 am

Mike Holmes does say:
"Sprinklers will knock down most fires quickly, which limits loss and damage from the flames. You'll likely suffer some water damage, but that will pale in comparison to whatever the fire might have done."

He's right that current building construction may be less fire resistant than the old days, and the contents can have more plastic, and be more flammable and hazardous. One example: Did you know a modern "2 x 4" only measure 1.5" x 3.5"?
In the Pleasanton house fire article it says that firefighters were concerned about collapse, so after seeing that the people are safe, they are less likely to go inside and risk their own lives.

Not sure why Holmes gives the facts and then comes to a conclusion opposite what most people, most fire experts, the model codes and California and other state laws require.

Contractors get paid to build, and often will get paid again to re-build after the fire, but nothing can replace lives or injury.

Sprinklers are effective against a typical small kitchen grease fire.
Studies show water damage and all, the losses are perhaps a third of what otherwise would happen. And the clean up is faster and easier, so probably you can stay in your house.
No, I don't recommend having a kitchen fire, so do watch what you are doing, be careful, be attentive. Don't leave cooking unattended, "just for a moment."

AND Yes, fire sprinklers need to remain On to work, and be inspected once in a while. Not a big deal. You maintain your car don't you?
But there's normally very little to fix. Don't paint over the sprinklers, make sure no one tampers with the valves, and test the alarm now and them.
Even better is to have the alarm automatically call the Fire Department.

James Art
Fire Protection Engineer

Like this comment
Posted by Damon
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 13, 2015 at 12:23 pm

@James Art

Well, perhaps he is wrong or right about residential fire sprinklers. I don't know. However, his "build it right the first time" philosophy does strike a chord with me. Why isn't fire-stop sealant used over drywall joints? It seems like a relatively simple measure which would greatly improve the fire-stop effectiveness of all the drywall in a house. Also, if 5/8" drywall does have significantly better fire-stop properties than the standard 1/2" drywall, why isn't using 5/8" drywall required for new houses? He also pointed out potential fire problems with the composite wood subfloors of many houses. So I can see his point of view, too. To Mike Holmes it's like builders are cutting corners and failing in all sorts of ways when it come to fundamentally making houses more fire-safe from the ground up, and then just slapping in a residential sprinkler system to satisfy the code and calling it the day. That doesn't go well with his "build it right the first time" philosophy.

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