Two in critical condition after apartment fire in SF

December 1, 2011 11:56:14 AM PST
High winds added to the trouble for firefighters battling fires in two adjacent San Francisco apartment buildings Thursday morning.

The frightening fire in the Mission woke people out of their sleep around 4:45 a.m. Many had to be rescued and several were injured.

The fire started in an enclosement on the top floor, where some very dramatic rescues took place. The wind carried the fire farther than firefighters imagined.

Evacuee Elliott Nathan said his roommate, Allison, told him to get out when the fire started.

"Went to the door really quick, saw that it was a glowing yellow coming out of the back," said Nathan.

Nathan, an artist who lives on the first floor of the building, was able to grab a few prized possessions before he and his roommates escaped the flames safely.

It was a different story on the third floor where the fire started.

"We had people running out of the building, and we had people on the third floor hanging out the windows," said assistant fire chief David Franklin.

Victoria Rossi, another fire evacuee, said she could see sparks where the fire was.

"There were people upstairs who were hanging out the window calling for help," said Rossi.

The blood on one window showed how desperate someone was to get out of the building. Firefighters say the resident was standing on shards of glass.

A fire lieutenant suffered from minor smoke inhalation.

"One of the victims was brought down the ladder, and the firefighter gave his mask up so she could have some fresh air to breathe," said SF Fire Department Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

Four residents were hurt and two were burned. It took firefighters about an hour to knock down the two-alarm fire.

"The way the city is built, with all of these wood structures, it could push the fire from building to building," Franklin said, adding that embers were a problem for fire crews.

In the end, the fire stayed contained to one structure.

There are six units within the building. Dozens of people who are displaced as a result of the fire are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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