SAN FRANCISCO (CBS-SF) – Firefighters from around the state will converge on San Francisco on Friday to attend the funeral service for two firemen who died after fighting a blaze in the city’s Diamond Heights neighborhood last week. The processional will include a number of street closures including a section of Interstate 280.
Fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said at least 6,000 people are expected to attend the services for Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53.
The pair died of injuries they suffered while battling a fire at a home at 133 Berkeley Way on June 2. Perez died later that day and Valerio succumbed to his injuries on Saturday morning. An electrical problem is blamed for causing a flashover, or surge of searing flame, which proved fatal to the firefighters.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
A vigil was held for the two men Thursday at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and a joint funeral is planned for 12:30 p.m. Friday, also at St. Mary’s.
After the funeral, the men will be buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.
Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, Mayor Ed Lee, and Bill Storti, the captain of Fire Station 26 where the two men worked, will be among the speakers at the funeral, as will Perez’s brother and one of Valerio’s longtime ambulance partners, according to Talmadge.
The funeral is expected to bring firefighters from as far south as Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as members of dozens of fire departments in the Bay Area and elsewhere in Northern California, Talmadge said.
“The fire department is overwhelmed with the love and support that we’ve been receiving from our brothers and sisters in the fire service and the public,” she said. “Everyone has just been amazingly gracious.”
Perez and Valerio were badly burned when objects in a room of the house apparently heated to the point of ignition, a dangerous phenomenon known as a “flashover,” Talmadge said.
A female firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns. She was treated at the hospital and released later that day.
Talmadge said the initial fire that day appears to have been sparked by something electrical, but its exact cause remains under investigation.
The Police Department has released details about street closures planned from about 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday to make way for the funeral and procession to the cemetery.
Westbound Geary Boulevard will be closed from Gough Street to Webster Street, and eastbound lanes will be shut down from Divisadero Street to Gough Street.
Northbound Webster Street will be blocked from Geary Boulevard to Ellis Street, and there will be partial lane closures on Gough Street between Geary Boulevard and Ellis Street.
After the funeral, a procession more than 200 fire trucks will travel south on Gough Street, then head west on Market Street, south on Valencia Street, west on 15th Street, south on Dolores Street and merge onto San Jose Avenue, police said.
From San Jose Avenue, the procession will enter southbound Interstate Highway 280 and exit at Serramonte Boulevard, then turn onto Collins Road, then head onto El Camino Real where it will end at the cemetery. Police and the CHP will close southbound 280 to all traffic between U.S. 101 and Serramonte Blvd. between 4 and 6 p.m., including ramps and exits, to allow for the procession.
Several San Francisco Municipal Railway bus and light-rail linesare expected to be impacted, including the F-Market, J-Church, 5-Fulton, 6-Parnassus, 21-Hayes, 22-Fillmore, 24-Divisadero, 31-Balboa, 33-Stanyan, 48-Quintara, 38/38L-Geary, and 71/71L-Haight-Noriega.
The San Francisco firefighters’ union has established trust accounts for the Perez and Valerio families at the San Francisco Fire Credit Union. Donations can be sent to the credit union at 3201 California St., San Francisco, 94118.
Condolence messages can be sent to Fire Station 26, 80 Digby St., San Francisco, 94131.
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