3-alarm fire damages Tenderloin building

June 18, 2010 8:00:19 AM PDT
The San Francisco Fire Department battled a 3-alarm fire near Taylor and Turk streets in the city's Tenderloin District Thursday evening.

A home for recently-released convicts, caught fire around 5:45 p.m. The fire appeared to come from the roof. Firefighters called for three alarms and they had 207 people in the building that they had to evacuate.

The majority of the group that lives in the building are inmates and some are parolees that are in the transitional phase or are toward the end of their sentence. The fact that the occupants are inmates, made for a challenging evacuation process.

Firefighters saved the building and the people. The inmates are all accounted for and are OK.

The one injury related to the fire was a firefighter who hurt his hand.

The top floor is where most of the damage to the building can be found.

"The majority of the damage was from us pulling the ceiling down because the attic had the majority of the fire in it. We did ventilate the top floor by breaking all the windows, you saw how it was a heavy smoke coming out of there. Firefighters were in a hot area, they opened up the top floor so they could get to the attic," said Dep. Fire Chief Pat Gardner.

Firefighters got all of the residents out and contained them to a nearby park. A spokesperson who runs the facility said the inmates have a motive not to run away or escape because they are almost finished with their sentence. No one attempted an escape.

The American Red Cross created a shelter at a local recreation center for all of the inmates. There were 207 of them, but a few dozen of them were allowed to stay with friends or relatives, so the Red Cross housed 130 for the night.

The Red Cross says they have the center for them, not just because they're inmates, but because of how many people they had to find a place for. Anytime there is more than 20 people, they don't put them in hotel rooms because it is too expensive.

The company hopes to assess the building on Friday and see if they can get the inmates back in there soon because they think all of the damage was at the top of the building.

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