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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Four people, including a firefighter, were hospitalized with smoke inhalation from a massive fire that raged in San Francisco’s Mission District Thursday afternoon.
The fire was reported around 1:03 p.m. at Big House Inc., a store at 2632 Mission St. The store sells a diverse selection of items including toys, clothes, backpacks and suitcases.
Flames and smoke were seen pouring out of the roof of the three-story building between 22nd and 23rd streets, which led to evacuations from adjacent buildings.
Late Thursday night, fire officials said the building is in danger of collapse. Battalion Chief Rudy Castellanos told KPIX 5 the Big House will likely be demolished in the next few days.
“There’s just so much water inside, there’s so much structural damage to the building. It’s an unsafe building. There’s always a chance, due to the weight of the water, of building collapse,” Castellanos said.
Several buildings surrounding the fire suffered a significant amount of smoke and water damage.
The fire reached three alarms at 1:44 p.m. A fourth alarm was called for at 2:05 p.m. and the fifth was called about 10 minutes later, fire officials said.
“Crews were inside and the conditions were deteriorating quickly. They were having difficulty accessing the upper floor of this particular building, so now they are backing out and are going to fight this fire defensively,” said San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Mindy Talmadge. “They’re keeping it from getting into the exposures as best as possible. This is a building that is connected to other buildings, so they’re working on protecting those exposure buildings.”
Talmadge said the amount of water being used on the fire prompted officials to activate a reserve source of water.
“They activated the Twin Peaks Reservoir and that’s part of our auxiliary water supply system. It’s dedicated to firefighting. We use it pretty frequently in the city and it’s a good thing we had it because we needed this extra volume of water.”
Authorities said late Thursday night that neighbors of the building remained evacuated.
The fire forced the closure of Mission St. between 22nd and 23rd streets, as well as parts of Valencia and Capp streets. Muni service is not impacted and are still running through those streets.
Building inspectors and structural engineers were at the scene Friday morning to check out the building’s integrity as well as for hot spots.
“We’re going to take a look at the building and hopefully issue an emergency demolition permit,” said Assistant Fire Battalion Chief David Franklin.
He said they’ll notify property owners who will then work with their insurance company to get that process done.
“We’ve got a large amount of materials in the building and we do have stuff smoldering under big piles. Until they can get some equipment in there and start picking that pile apart, we’re going to have smoldering and we’re going to probably be here on scene,” Franklin said.
Crews are concerned about the front wall in the old brick building. A large crack can be seen going from the roof line down to an adjacent wall. However, the roof is mostly gone.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.