Investigators: Blaze That Killed 2 SF Firefighters Accidental

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San Francisco Firefighters surround the scene of a fatal fire on Berkeley Way (Susan Bertson)

San Francisco Firefighters surround the scene of a fatal fire on Berkeley Way (Susan Bertson)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An investigation into the cause of a fire that claimed the lives of two San Francisco firefighters in June indicated that the blaze was accidental and most likely electrical in nature, fire officials said.

Lt. Vincent Perez, 48, and firefighter-paramedic Anthony Valerio, 53, succumbed to injuries sustained battling the blaze at 133 Berkeley Way in the city’s Diamond Heights neighborhood on June 2.

Perez died later that day, and Valerio died two days later. It was the first time since 2003 that the department had a firefighter die in the line of duty, much less two.

A third firefighter was also injured during the response. She was treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns at a hospital and was released.

>>Photo Gallery: Two San Francisco Firefighters Killed

The two men, who were veterans of the department and worked out of Station 26, were found badly burned inside the home after radio communication was lost after a “flashover”—an explosion from intense heat—rocked the home.

The exact cause of the fire was still unknown, fire officials said, because testing of electrical components and the residential electrical system had yet to be completed. What was known was that the fire started one floor below grade in the four-story single-family home.

An official report is scheduled to be released sometime next month, and that report will contain information from an internal safety investigation, according to fire officials.

The San Francisco Fire Department also requested that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conduct an independent safety investigation. That investigation is ongoing.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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