Dozens displaced by 4-alarm SF apartment fire

San Francisco firefighters battle 4-alarm fire on Hyde Street in San Francisco.

October 20, 2010 1:08:05 PM PDT
A massive early morning fire in San Francisco left dozens of people without a place to live. The fire was reported at about 5:20 a.m. Wednesday in the 800 block of Hyde between Sutter and Bush streets.

There are 75 residents who have checked in at the evacuation center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital. About 40 of those residents will be permanently living in a new place.

All eight units of the apartment building were involved in the fire.

"We got reports from inside from the safety officer that the stairwell had collapsed between the second and third floor. We made the decision to pull everyone out of the building and go defensive on it," said San Francisco Fire Dept. Dep. Chief Pat Gardner.

Dozens of residents all managed to get out. Many escaped with just the clothes on their back, like Academy of Art University student, Shumila Bana, who lost it all.

"Everything, I had my portfolio, books, my supplies, everything. I have to pretty much start over," said Bana.

The fire was so intense, the 12-unit apartment building next door had to be evacuated. Jose Estrella lives there. He was awakened by a neighbor pounding on his door.

"I could feel the heat already in my building, it was just like burning, like boiling, like something was cooking -- a big fire," said Estrella.

The building where the fire started is red-tagged and probably a tear-down.

"The bricks are standing alone by themselves. We evacuated that complete area and we are not letting anyone on the backside of the building or in the alleyway between the two buildings," said Gardner.

Three people were injured by smoke inhalation and evacuees were taken to St. Francis Hospital where the Red Cross set up an emergency shelter.

A number of streets were closed to traffic, making the morning commute a long one for many people. But that delay doesn't really compare with the plight of Bana whose life has come to an abrupt halt.

"I only have my cell phone on me, that's all I had. I have no idea," said Bana.

Things are beginning to get a little bit better for Bana. She will be put up at a dorm for the Academy.

The fire is believed to have started on the first floor and is under investigation.


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