Massive Fire Engulfs San Francisco Apartment Buildings

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A five-alarm fire that burned for hours in three buildings near San Francisco’s Alamo Square Thursday was finally brought under control shortly after 3 p.m., a fire dispatcher said.

The fire was reported at 11:53 a.m. at a three-unit Victorian home at 1502 Golden Gate Ave. and the flames spread rapidly along the rear of the building, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said at a news briefing at the scene.

At least two people suffered minor injuries in the fire—a firefighter who suffered neck burns and a civilian who suffered smoke inhalation, Hayes-White said. A dispatcher said the firefighter who suffered the burns was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

PHOTOS: Fire Engulfs San Francisco Apartment Buildings

About 140 firefighters responded to the blaze.

Hayes-White said the “intensity of the heat and flames” forced firefighters to change tactics when conditions became too dangerous.

She said the wind presented challenges, as did the fact that the building where the blaze started is a wooden structure and is attached to other buildings.

“Everyone’s done a tremendous job,” Hayes-White said of the firefighting efforts.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined, but fire investigators were at the scene looking for clues late this afternoon, a dispatcher said.

The fire was described by Hayes-White as “one of the most intense the city has seen in some time.”

KCBS Team Coverage:

It brought dozens of people out to nearby streets to watch the activity, including supervisor and sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi, who represents the neighborhood.

“This is gut-wrenching because we’re in the heart of the holiday,” Mirkarimi said.

A nearby elderly care facility also had to be evacuated as a precaution because of the heavy smoke.

The building where the fire started is adjacent to the Creative Arts Charter School. An outgoing message at the school states that the school is on winter break.

The American Red Cross responded to the scene and has since set up an evacuation center to assist residents displaced from the roughly 30 units affected by the fire.

The evacuation center is at the Missionary Temple church at 1455 Golden Gate Ave. Residents who need housing, food or other assistance are advised to go to the evacuation center or call (888) 4-HELP-BAY.

Those wishing to donate to the fire victims can contact the Red Cross at (888) 4-HELP-BAY or visit

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

  • Gerard

    wow! Grace Lee doing an excellent job running the real time commentary on this fire.

    • jean cavanaugh

      I cannot stand her on the news. Thinking she is really funny, sometimes she makes the stupidest comments which makes her look really embarassing as a newscaster. I wish they would get her off the air!

      • steve

        These strange women come from planet Bimbette: they all wear the same silly outfits and do their hair and makeup the same, as mandated by their Fearless Leader. Some of them take jobs as Sideline Babes or Booth Babes; many of them are blonde and indistinguishable. Some of them are clearly somebody’s daughter or other relative, which is how they got the job. Because they move around so much they have no real knowledge of the areas they are working in, which can lead to on-air moments.


        i don’t believe in the word “embarrassing”

  • John

    I was enjoying watching your coverage but having the same prilosec commercial interrupt it six times in a row sort of put me off.

  • damon

    Look at the “Real Heroes” The Fire Fighter’s, they are fighting the fire it appears with no fear. This is incredible how they run “to” the problem, in order to save lives, and prevent further damage. Hats off to you…Thanks

  • FuglySFNewsPeopleRhardToWatch

    Agree, can’t stand SF newscast. I’ve come to think SF hired all the rejects that couldn’t get hired in LA or Sac. Where most other city’s reporters are pleasing to the eyes and ears SF has some really frumpy and speech impaired women. Not to mention a small creepy looking traffic dude.

    But GOOOO SFFD! Had this been any other small time city 10 buildings would have burned instead of 3. SFFD is a very aggressive fire department that actually still goes in a burning building and won’t come out until the last minute.


      that was funny. at least your disparaging remarks are funny. hehe

  • jane doe

    really mean spirited folks….These people ate AT WORK, not commenting about how weird looking any of YOU are.

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