Investigators: Pier 29 fire started at electrical outlets

(KGO)
June 21, 2012 7:23:23 PM PDT
Fire officials say they know where Wednesday's massive waterfront fire started and they're now working on how.

The fire sent huge chunks of Pier 29's fa?ade and entrance plummeting to the sidewalk. On Thursday, workers finished making the sidewalk safe for pedestrians again by removing and stabilizing what's left of the face of the building. And while the fire was contained and never spread beyond the building's walls, the problems related to it did.

Inside, fire investigators studied the spot where the fire started, a bank of electrical outlets. "It's the area with the heaviest charring, and as you can see, the fire, the way it acted, it went up this way and went across the ceiling," SFFD spokesperson Mindy Talmadge said. Investigators don't know yet if workers using the electric power played a role. "We do know that there were some workers that were doing some work in this area. However, there is electrical supply here too, so there could have been a couple different reasons," Talmadge said.

The fire knocked out power to adjacent piers and nearly 24 hours later, Bill Dawson was still waiting for it to be restored at his wholesale seafood business. "We're getting short on time," he told ABC7 News. Dawson has to keep his merchandise cold. Without power, he risks losing it and taking a huge financial hit. "It'd be north of $100,000," he said.

Also on Pier 33, the Monterey Fish Market is now relying on a generator it rented only after finding out about the outage Thursday morning. "Nobody gave us a call. When we all showed up at 2 in the morning, the whole pier was black except for car headlights," fisherman Mark Alley said. Alley says they send 1,000 pounds of fish a day to Las Vegas and 10,000 around the Bay Area. They're not taking any chances on power sticking with the rented generator, which wasn't easy to get. "There's a big race at Sears Point. All the generators are up there right now. They're already taken, so somebody turned one back in at the last second, so we got one," Alley said.

Pier 29 was empty at the time the fire started. It was being prepared for use during the America's Cup yacht race next summer. The Port of San Francisco says the fire will not affect those plans.


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