SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Two firefighters were injured and a number of businesses were damaged in a four-alarm blaze on Ocean Avenue in San Francisco’s Ingleside neighborhood Tuesday morning, fire officials said.

The fire was reported at 5:50 a.m. by residents on Southwood Drive, but when firefighters responded, they saw the flames were coming from the rear of a row of businesses in the 1500 block of Ocean Avenue, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.

Crews eventually controlled the blaze at 7:29 a.m., Hayes-White said.

One firefighter suffered an irregular heartbeat while battling the flames, and another suffered a shoulder injury. Both were expected to survive, Assistant Fire Chief Tom Siragusa said.

Flames and smoke erupt from King's Coffee and Tea shop on Ocean Ave. in San Francisco, August 7, 2012. (Dale Wait)

Flames and smoke erupt from King’s Coffee and Tea shop on Ocean Ave. in San Francisco, August 7, 2012. (Dale Wait)

Siragusa said firefighters encountered dangerous conditions in the fire, including a backdraft when they opened a door and there was “virtually an explosion” because of all of the smoke and energy that came into the room.

“What happens is all that smoke gets up in that common attic space. It’s waiting for the right ignition point,” said Siragusa. “One of the things that sometimes occurs is that when a firefighter opens up that front door and introduces oxygen into that building, you get that mixture of oxygen and the super-heated gases.”

KCBS’ Jeffery Schaub Reports:

Hayes-White said, “The conditions were challenging, but the crews did a very good job.”

Up to nine businesses on Ocean Avenue may have sustained some sort of damage, from the Happy Bakery and Deli and King’s Coffee & Tea on the eastern side of the block down to a Walgreens on the western end, Siragusa said. Fire officials said an estimated $3 million in total damages was sustained.

He said the fire reached so many businesses because many share attic space in two adjacent buildings.

Several homes on Southwood Drive were briefly evacuated because of the fire, and the backyard fence of one home was destroyed, Hayes-White said.

Ken Piper, who lives on Southwood Drive, said he woke up around 6 a.m. and “could see the flames coming up” the back of the building. His home was not one of the ones evacuated.

Piper speculated that the fire may have started in one of the restaurants on Ocean Avenue. “They have kitchens in the back and a lot of oil,” he said.

However, as of 9 a.m., the cause of the fire remained under investigation, Siragusa said.

Service on the K-Ingleside Muni line was disrupted because of the fire. Bus shuttles are in effect.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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