Three people were sent to the hospital on Saturday morning after a drunk driver reportedly collided into a series of objects and started a warehouse fire along Airport Road.

Pacifica resident Matthew Burnham, 39, is being charged with felony drunk driving for allegedly causing serious injuries to his passengers and more than $200,000 in property damage. He remains in the hospital in serious condition.

California Highway Patrol officials say the accident started around 1:45 a.m. after Burnham and two Coastside residents left a Princeton bar in his 2011 Cadillac CTS.

Turning north to drive along Airport Road, Burnham was reportedly driving at a fast speed when he veered to the side of the street and crashed into a boat parked along the road. He continued driving and collided again into a van parked near Stanford Avenue. The impact pushed the van into a commercial warehouse and started a fire.

Flammable materials packed inside the warehouse were quickly ignited. The blaze continued to grow even after it triggered the building’s automatic sprinkler system.

Coastside firefighters arrived within minutes and requested aid from other regional fire departments to help battle the blaze. A total of 55 firefighters from across the Peninsula spent about 90 minutes to extinguish the fire.

The three people in the car were taken by ambulance to Stanford Medical Center. Burnham suffered multiple fractured ribs and a broken sternum in the crash.

CHP officials say Burnham was drunk at the time of the accident, but they could not provide any specifics. They are continuing to investigate the incident.

A 21-year-old passenger from Half Moon Bay suffered a ruptured spleen and remains in serious condition in the hospital. A second passenger, a 21-year-old from Montara, suffered an eye injury. He was released from the hospital on Saturday.

(6) comments

John Charles Ullom
John Charles Ullom

Yes Teri, we know that. Cal Fire managed the whole shebang. Very impressive.

Currently we are getting professional fire protection from Cal Fire and we are spending a million or more less than we will be paying if we go to a stand alone. Do you think we should pay more to get the same services?

We haven't been sued since Cal Fire started professional managing our fire department. The last suit against was filed by mackintosh and paid for by Local 2400. It cost you, me, and us over a million dollars to deal with that law suit.

The contract we have is beneficial to the community. I've been to three meetings, each with over 30 people attending, and not one person has supported a move to a stand alone department.

Would you say that someone who usually works in forestry coming in here and not knowning the district is better than someone who knows it more and is trained with equal experience?

Yes I would but that is not the case. Most of Cal Fire's operations occur in urban environments. They do one heck of a lot more than put out forest fires. The men who are serving us on the coast are all trained and qualified to deal with any emergency that can be reasonable expected around here.

When was the last time you heard of a Cal Fire employe peeing in sleeping bags, vandalizing the chiefs car, or sued us? I tell you when, never. You might what to educate yourself on what things were like when we had a stand alone department.

Cid Young
Cid Young

Isn't that location right near where the County of San Mateo granted a Variance to allow the BIG WAVE PROJECT DEVELOPERS to Build a RESIDENTIAL facility in a W (Waterfront) Zoning area where other surrounding buildings are full of toxic chemicals? Another clear example why there should not be a DD Community "Sanitorium" built in close proximity to properties designated as W Land use.


Do you guys realize that Calfire weren't the only ones that responded? City depts from Foster City,Belmont, plus volunteers who are all not Calfire badged responded as well.

How can you judge that other agencies flaming a standalone in our own community will be inexperienced? Would you say that someone who usually works in forestry coming in here and not knowning the district is better than someone who knows it more and is trained with equal experience?

I don't think it matters who we have, as long as the contract is beneficial to the community and we have an adequate department that the board chooses to have. [smile]


Thank you, CalFire. And thank you, Peggy Emrey, for your important comment!


This was a great example of how our CalFire was able to mobilize and manage the large response that this incident required, saving the adjacent property and preventing more widespread destruction. It takes special training and experience to bring in and coordinate multi-agency incidents effectively, and our CalFire service provides this.

Remember this example as you read about three people's intent to destroy CalFire on the Coastside. This is just one example of why we need the experienced resources CalFire brings to this community. For an example of what can happen on a grand scale when local emergency responders are not highly trained to handle multi-agency response to a major disaster, think Hurricane Katrina. Yes, that was bigger, but this particular fire could easily have grown to involve a huge area of structures and brush with inept management and inexperience. Thank you, CalFire for bringing in your highly trained staff and other agency resources to save our community!


A new candidate for Commerce Secretary!

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