Electrical problem may have sparked morning house fire

A fire in a house displaced one family on the same day that a blaze on San Bruno Mountain temporarily closed a middle school.

After Ravi Lal and his wife, Ajaishnee, left for work Friday morning, their house, which they have owned since 1985, caught on fire, most likely from an electrical malfunction in their dining room.

“We lost a lot and, of course, all of our memories — I had my kids’ pictures in there,” said Ajaishnee Lal, pointing to the dining room where all that remained of their computers, pictures, toys and a bar was their scorched outlines.

No one from Lal’s six-member family was injured in the fire on Atlantic Avenue, which is behind the Tanforan Shopping Center.

Standing next to the corner where the fire started, Ravi Lal, his eyes red from smoke, said he could not believe his home burned down only days after an apartment complex in Redwood City, where he works, also burned when a car exploded there Tuesday.

Family members were carrying out their belongings to move to a hotel, where they were planning to stay for the next few days. Barking through the clamor of the family’s sobs and worries was Snowball, the Lals’ 4-year-old chow chow whose white fur turned gray from the smoke.

“We don’t know what to do with Snowball because we can’t take him to the hotel,” Ajaishnee Lal said.

A few miles away, a grass fire burned almost 2 acres of hillside behind Lipman Middle School in Brisbane. That fire was started at 8:53 a.m. by a 13-year-old student playing with a lighter, fire officials said.

The school, located at 1 Solano St., had to be temporarily evacuated and students missed their first class, Principal Jolene Heckleman said.

“They were very concerned,” she said. “The students love the mountain — it’s something many of them are very attached to.”

The grass fire was controlled in 30 minutes by 33 firefighters from North County Fire Authority, South San Francisco Fire Department and Cal Fire, according to NCFA spokesman Clyde Preston. He said the fire did not threaten any homes or cause any injuries.

The grass fire is presumed to be unrelated to the two grass fires that churned 8 acres on San Bruno Mountain last month, according to fire officials.

svasilyuk@sfexaminer.com

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