Nature’s call alerts resident to deadly San Mateo fire

An early morning fire Thursday that consumed two houses, displaced 16 people and killed two puppies in San Mateo was dangerously close to taking human lives, residents say, if it weren’t for the full bladder of a neighbor.

Ray Tulloh, who lives adjacent to the Lodi Avenue houses that caught fire, said he had woken up to go to the bathroom early Thursday morning and flipped on the TV to help him snuggle back to slumber, when the power suddenly went out.

He said he almost went back to sleep, but on a whim decided to check the fuse box.

It was then, he said, that he saw smoke billowing out of the garage at 1533 Lodi Ave.

Tulloh recalls racing to the front of the house and rattling the locked front door. He said he then started banging on the door and shouting for residents inside to wake up while trying to grab a water hose.

Just as he was about to break down the front door, three people from the house ran out barefoot, followed by swells of smoke and flame.

“Ray is our hero,” 24-year-old Moreen Singh said Thursday, standing across the street from her blackened home.

She said she could hardly remember how to dial 911, she was so stunned and shaken. As emergency crews responded, the neighbor’s house at 1541 Lodi Ave. also caught fire in the two-alarm blaze. The neighbors from that residence evacuated their house unharmed.

The only ones who didn’t escape were the puppies, which were in the garage, where the fire is believed to have started.

“We ran out and we heard our puppies whining. We turned around to get them but there was just smoke and flames and windows breaking and things exploding. We couldn’t go back in. We just stood there helplessly watching it all burn,” Singh said.

The San Mateo Fire Department said the blaze may have originated with an electrical problem in the garage. The fire, which caused an estimated $400,000 of total damage for both houses, was under control by about 4:20 a.m., fire officials said.

kworth@examiner.com

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear masks. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California orders vaccine or testing for health care workers, state employees

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases and… Continue reading

Jeremy Kahn and Monica Ho are excellent in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Lauren Yee’s “The Song of Summer,” being presented live and online. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Touching relationship at heart of ‘Song of Summer’

Lighthearted SF Playhouse show ‘feels right for this moment’

Most Read