Investigators say the fire, which caused millions of dollars in damage, could have been a malicious act. Firefighters admit it isn't a strong lead but they are following up after questioning someone who heard from someone else that they saw something.
The fire was aggressive. It traveled to three neighboring buildings before fire crews could get to the scene. People sleeping inside the building woke up feeling a mixture of fear and shock. "Oh my gosh, wow," Patricia Lunn said. "It was so big I could see it going billowing over to my window and it was just wow, humongous."
The fire caused significant damage to three buildings. Water from the firefighters' hoses flooded the first floor of two other buildings. Fire officials determined that the fire started in between two buildings on McKinnon Street at Third Street just before 1 a.m.
"There were 20 citizens displaced by this fire. American Red Cross has been working with the displaced residents," said SFFD Battalion Chief Tom Abbott.
"I've very upset about it. That's my baby and it's no longer existing so, we're going to try to maybe, possibly, put it back together," said Clarence Williams who owns the three buildings that were burned. As of 11 a.m. Wednesday, firefighters hadn't allowed Williams to enter the buildings due to concerns the structure could collapse so he couldn't say how badly the buildings were damaged, but he suspects they are a total loss.
Everyone got out safely but Williams is still worried about his tenants. "I'm relieved they're OK but I'm sorry they don't have a place to stay," he said. "After three days, Red Cross will no longer house them. So, where are we going to go from there?"
Two firefighters suffered minor injuries during the incident.