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2-Alarm Fire Damages Internet Archive Library In SF’s Richmond District

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Firefighters battle a 2-alarm blaze in San Francisco. (CBS)

Firefighters battle a 2-alarm blaze in San Francisco. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Firefighters battled a two-alarm blaze Wednesday morning that damaged an internet archive has displaced at least eight people in San Francisco’s Inner Richmond neighborhood, a fire dispatcher said.

Crews responded to a report of a fire in the 1100 block of Clement Street, between Funston and 12th avenues, at 3:45 a.m., the dispatcher said.

The fire damaged the building that houses Internet Archive, a non-profit that is building a library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form.

Founder Brewster Kahle said, as a librarian, fire is the thing nightmares are made of. When he got the call early Wednesday morning that a fire had broken out in the scanning room, he worried about the people, then the equipment, then the data.

“It doesn’t look like any collections of physical materials, that were being processed now, were destroyed in anyway,” Kahle said.  “There were some old, used books that had been donated to The Internet Archive from used bookstores, that may have been destroyed, but not that much.  So all in all, we’re very lucky.”

The fire did destroy the scanning equipment for the non-profit, which digitizes old books, movies and documents and preserves old websites.

At least two structures caught fire, including a church, a business and a residence, according to the dispatcher.

No injuries have been reported, but roughly eight people have been displaced as of 5 a.m., the dispatcher said.

Crews had the fire under control by 5:30 a.m.

(Copyright 2013 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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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