SAN FRANCISCO --
An early morning two-alarm fire in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood Monday sent three elderly people to the hospital for treatment of smoke inhalation, but authorities said the toll could have been much worse had it not been for the heroics of one woman.
Lia Gee was in her apartment when she was alerted to the fire. But instead of racing out of the building to safety, she went to the aid of an elderly neighbor who was having trouble fleeing.
“I heard something that wasn’t normal so I opened the window,” said Gee, who hands were still blackened from the smoke and soot of the blaze. “I saw the smoke…I went to the old man (in the hallway) and said – ‘Go! Go!’ He wouldn’t move so then I carried him down the stairs. We were on the top floor.”
But when Gee got to the front door, she was greeted by a wall of fire and smoke.
“There was no light,” she said. “I saw the smoke and fire. So I carried him back up to the second floor to the backstairs. The smoke was so heavy I was getting a headache. We got to the backdoor and the police were there…We got to life (live). We were lucky.”
The elderly man was one of three people who were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. The condition of all three was not immediately known.
“I hope he is okay,” Lai said.
According to the San Francisco Fire Department, crews responded to the fire at 1545 Powell St., between Vallejo and Green streets, at around 12:40 a.m. and had the blaze under control by 12:55 a.m.
A dispatcher said that around 25 people were displaced by the fire, including five children. The American Red Cross was contacted to assist with temporary housing.
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