San Francisco Fire Displaces 130


A three-alarm fire tore through the upper floors of a Tenderloin District halfway house in San Francisco Thursday evening, doing enough damage to displace some 130 residents before firefighters were able to bring blaze under control, according to officials.

Fire personnel said that the fire at an apartment building located at 111 Taylor Street near Turk Street was reported at approximately 5:30 p.m. and went to three alarms about 30 minutes later.

Fire crews immediately called for backup, bringing in 35 vehicles and some 112 firefighters to keep the flames from spreading to other high rise buildings.

The fire was still smoldering and producing smoke from the top of the building at around 7 p.m. The apartment complex provides transitional housing mostly for federal and state parolees, according to officials.

Footage shot by NewsChopper 2 revealed heavy smoke and flames coming from several points on the roof of the building where upwards of a dozen firefighters could be seen battling the fire. Firefighters gained control over the blaze in less than an hour at around 6:25 p.m.

Firefighters remained on the roof of the building dousing hot spots into the night.

One resident of the building has been taken to San Francisco General Hospital for smoke inhalation and a firefighter was taken to St. Luke's after he sustained minor injuries to his hand while fighting the fire, according to authorities. There were no other injuries reported.

Additionally, the fire forced the closure of several streets in the area during the height of the evening commute, snarling traffic for a period of time before fire officials were able to reopen them.

Officials said 207 people lived in the building, including about 20 women and five children.

The building was evacuated and residents were taken to Boedecker Park, just a block away. The Red Cross arrived with blankets and arranged for a temporary shelter.

We have one of our emergency response vehicles on site there housing some of the more fragile [people], said Aaron Litwin of the SF Red Cross. There are a couple of newborns that getting out of the cold right now.

Muni buses were brought in to transport residents to the temporary shelter at the Gene Friend Recreation Center at Sixth and Folsom streets.

Patricia Peper, spokeswoman for the American Red Cross in the San Francisco area, said her last count for displaced residents was 129 adults and two children.

Peper said the city's Human Services Department arranged for displaced residents to be sheltered at the facility, which is run by recreation and parks.

Although Peper said that the local Red Cross hasn't seen a displacement quite this extensive for a while, she said that the organization is plenty prepared.

"We've done some pretty large-scale sheltering over the years," she said.

Peper said everyone at the shelter will be provided with meals, and that the facility will be available to displaced residents for at least the next two days.

Fire investigators said they were following several leads as to what might have caused the fire.

From what we understand there were roofers working on the top for the past several days," said SF Fire Chief Pat Gardner.

Fire officials were continuing to investigate a possible cause into the evening, but at around 9:45 p.m. a spokesman told KTVU it appeared that the fire was accidental.

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