SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A two-alarm fire erupted Sunday afternoon at the National Hotel in San Francisco’s Civic Center, forcing residents to flee the thick smoke that billowed out of the building.
San Francisco Fire officials said one resident was treated and released after suffering from smoke inhalation. There were no other injuries to residents or firefighters.
The hotel, located in the 600 block of Odd Fellows Way just off Market Street, offers 90 units of permanent “supportive housing to San Francisco residents in critical need.”
Fire officials said crews responded to the mid-Market neighborhood to reports of a fire at 5:30 p.m. The response was quickly elevated to two alarms.
Twenty-five fire vehicles and 75 emergency responders, including firefighters and paramedics, were on the scene as the fire burned on the first, second and third floors of the building.
As the firefighters arrived, they encountered a chaotic scene. Dozens of residents were streaming out of the building.
Roneshia Talley is a desk clerk at The National, which is home to those who have previously faced chronic homelessness. She says tenants vary in age from early 20s to 70s and 80s.
“I’m hurt for my tenants, because that’s where they live, they don’t have nothing already as it is,” she said. “And for them to go back and can’t go and can’t do anything – a lot of my tenants need medication, a lot of my tenants are sick, a lot of my tenants are elderly, a lot of my tenants have mental health issues. And they can’t even get to they stuff.”
She said the smoke billowed in from the back of the building.
“I heard somebody downstairs yelling,” Talley told KPIX 5. “So when I hear people screaming and hollering I come to see what’s going on because that’s my job. So I come downstairs and I’m thinking somebody may be fighting or something, and I need to call the police or something. I come downstairs and the store is smoking.”
The thick smoke clogged the air in the neighborhood. Flames roared out of the first floor at the rear of the building.
The toughest battle for firefighters was the first floor dollar store.
“Heavy heat, heavy fire, active fire conditions were prevalent all over the first floor. And as you can see from the occupancy type, it is a dollar store so we have high levels of combustibles, such as paper, wood, plastics,” said SFFD assistant chief Nicol Juratovac.
That smoke is nasty. Anyone in the area should close their windows and avoid it! If you did breathe it please drink a lot of water. It’s the reason firefighters have increased rates of cancer. #becareful @IAFFNewsDesk @UCSFCancer pic.twitter.com/a9i4qtgTrT
— San Francisco Firefighters 798 (@SFFFLocal798) June 14, 2021
By 7:02 p.m., fire officials said the blaze and smoke had been contained.
Thank you to the @SFFDPIO @SFFFLocal798 fighting an active 2 alarm fire at the National Hotel on Market St. The building has been evacuated, no injuries reported, fire under control but still being put out. Red Cross helping to support residents.
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) June 14, 2021
The cause of the blaze remains under investigation. The Red Cross was at the scene, assisting the 80 displaced residents.