Red Cross struggles to house fire victims

April 7, 2011 7:51:24 PM PDT
The Red Cross is struggling to care for dozens of people who have been displaced because of two fires in San Francisco.

Video, from uReport powered by YouTube, shows the intensity of a fire in the 3000 block of Mission Street Wednesday night that left several people homeless. Another fire this week also cost several people their homes. Both fires are not considered suspicious, but of course the investigation continues. Regardless, it is little comfort for those who are still living in shelters.

It took two hours for firefighters to control this blaze on Mission Street near Valencia. The wind made conditions worse. Firefighters have now determined it started on the 3rd floor.

Thursday afternoon, chard items were thrown out onto to the street and workers boarded up windows. Twelve people were displaced, but that is nowhere close to the number of people left homeless by Tuesday night's fire in the Tenderloin -- 124 people there were displaced. As of Thursday, 31 are still in shelters.

"I'm struggling so far, I'm handling it. I'm coping like anybody else. It's not easy, but at least I'm surviving," said Tenderloin resident Adam Chedister.

Despite the challenges of housing people, the American Red Cross said staff and volunteers rose to the occasion.

"For the shelters, we had I think 45 people responded yesterday in all different capacities from driving the trucks, bringing the food, arraigning for the food and all of that type of stuff. We have the machinery already to go we just push the switch and it starts," said Barry Gruber from the American Red Cross.

"The Red Cross is helping me as much as they can, providing bedding and clothing and food to get by right now. It's just rough right now to be out of my room," said Tenderloin resident Matthews Costa.

Rita Tonucci lost everything. She told us living in a shelter starts getting old after the second day.

"Clothes, they aren't letting us back inside to get our clothes and so we have to live in whatever has been donated by Goodwill because the building is still structurally unsafe," said Tonucci.

The cause has yet to be determined.

"It started somewhere in the garbage shoot area, it's not suspicious. They've collected all the evidence, all of the physical evidence from the scene, and now they are processing the report on that one," said San Francisco Fire Dep. Chief Pat Gardner.

The Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation was able to find housing for about half of the residents. Those 31 who are still at two shelters are sleeping in one big room on cots. The city is working to find temporary housing for them. Work on the residential hotel will take about one year.

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