SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Fire Department were able to contain a three-alarm fire that burned several floors in a downtown high-rise apartment building Monday evening, according to fire officials.
The fire burning at the Gateway apartment complex located on the 400 block of Davis Court near Washington Street in the city’s Financial District was first reported at around 5:15 p.m.
Hundreds watched as tall flames shot from the windows of this 25-story residential high rise.
“It was engulfed pretty good. We were concerned how fast it was spreading,” said witness Nick Coniglio. “It went through three floors pretty quickly. They’d put it out and then the next floor above it started to go.”
A tweet posted by Twitter user Eric Miller showed heavy smoke and flames coming from a unit on the 12th or 13th floor of the building.
The fire department tweeted out that a second alarm had been called shortly before 5:30 p.m. People were warned to avoid the area.
A third alarm was called at 5:36 p.m. According to the SF Fire Department Twitter post, rescues were being made. Fire officials said the fire was burning on the 12th, 13th and 15th floors of the building.
Video shot at around 6 p.m. showed fire crews inside the apartments damaged by the fire. The fire appeared to be completely out at that point.
Fire officials confirmed that the fire was contained at 6:08 p.m. after burning units on the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th floors. Officials later said that the fire started on the 12th floor.
The fire department says about seven people had minor injuries, but none required hospitalization. Firefighters conducted at least a dozen rescues.
“At least six of those that we know of were physically impaired individuals, some of them in wheelchairs,” said John Baxter with the San Francisco Fire Department. “I talked to one fire crew that brought down a 100-year-old couple.”
Evacuees from the fire were finding temporary accommodations at the nearby Hyatt where the Red Cross has set up a shelter.
A total of 30 units in the building were uninhabitable, according to fire officials, meaning that at least 30 residents if not more were displaced by the fire.
One evacuee told KPIX 5 he was grateful for the men and women who charged into his building and put the fire out in less than an hour.
“It reminded me of 9-11, of what it must have been to going down these stairs and how really brave these firemen are to be running towards the blaze,” the evacuee said.
The Gateway complex is a mix of apartments and town homes. The tall towers were built in 1965. That was before San Francisco had requirements for sprinkler installation in high-rise buildings.
But firefighters said the building has large pipes that run water. Fire crews were able to plug in their hoses and douse the flames.