SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — As nearly 150 firefighters descended on the area near AT&T Park Tuesday afternoon to battle a burning six-story apartment building under construction, veteran firefighters immediately knew the severe risk they faced.
“This thing is big, it’s hot and it’s fast,” retired Contra Costa Fire Department Battalion Chief Dave George told KCBS Radio.
“This thing had a good head-start before the first firefighters arrived on the scene. It was going to be a difficult thing to control.”
The initial fight involves what George calls a “massive surgical deluge of water,” that “vaporized immediately into steam.” At one point, 15 streams of water or more were directed at the flames.
No injuries were reported, despite the massive evacuation and firefight.
The dangerous part wasn’t when they arrived on scene, he said, though, but is still to come overnight Tuesday.
“Not only are the walls still up, but there’s a great potential for collapse that can be sudden and catastrophic,” George said. “As they continue to work the fire overnight, the water and embers will make the walls weaker and weaker and at any moment they can come down.”
That same scaffolding, however, may have prevented injuries to people on the streets below evacuating neighboring buildings.
When asked about the nature of the structure appearing to be mostly wood, George mentioned that wood is not a surprise, even on a six-story structure like this.
“Wood is making a comeback in a lot of construction areas. It’s not unusual depending on where you’re located, and large buildings like this are typically using wood in a lot of parts of the Bay Area right now.”
Now that wood is in a smoking heap, and the mounds of debris contain so many burning embers that this fire will continue to burn, smoke, and smolder for days.