Wednesday, September 28, 2011
HAIGHT & FILLMORE ON FIRE
Thanks to local hero's "Upper Play Ground" for the this video clip, minutes after the fire started
SAN FRANCISCO -- A four-alarm fire burned through apartments on top of a Walgreens store in San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood on Tuesday, sending residents fleeing into the street as smoke and flames burst out of windows.
The fire did "heavy damage" to the three-story building at Haight and Fillmore streets, said Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge. Most of the damage was contained to the top floor, although the second floor sustained water damage.
Talmadge said everyone was evacuated safely from the drugstore and upper floors, where there are 25 apartments. One firefighter had a minor cut to a finger and another person sought assistance from an ambulance, but both people were treated on scene, Talmadge said. Firefighters also rescued two dogs and four cats.
The fire, reported at 4 p.m., drew 125 firefighters. They had to poke holes through the roof to reach attic spaces where the fire burned out of control, Talmadge said. By 5:30 p.m., the blaze had been contained and firefighters were putting out hot spots.
Carl Casey, who lives across the street from the building, was eating in a restaurant next door to the fire when he saw smoke and flames. At one point he heard glass shattering and saw top-floor windows falling to the street.
"It was a big fire," he said. "It's not every day you see something like this."
Mohamed Bouabibsa, owner of a nearby pizza shop, said he had seen a person run out of the building and collapse while the fire was raging. "The wind was pushing" the fire up and away from the building, he said.
The blaze closed the area to traffic for at least two hours, and three Muni lines - the 6, 22 and 77 - had to be rerouted.
The fire is believed to have broken out on the top floor. Several witnesses reported hearing several small explosions or "popping" sounds just before the fire started, Talmadge said. The cause is under investigation.