Crews demolishing building in Mission Bay fire

Forty-eight hours after the Mission Bay fire and they're still looking for hot spots and flare-ups.
March 13, 2014 8:19:15 PM PDT
Forty-eight hours after the Mission Bay fire and they're still looking for hot spots and flare-ups. As the demolition work continues, fire investigators are still not allowed into the site. The destruction spans a city block, but 4th Street should finally reopen Thursday evening.

Crews spent the morning ripping down the most charred corner of this structure. Now, insurance company investigators are surveying the damage. But so far no one has gone into this big pile of burned out wood, concrete and steel. That includes fire department investigators.

"It might not even be possible to get inside; it's all imploded down onto itself, it would not be safe to allow people to operate," San Francisco Fire Batt. Chief Thomas Abbott said.

Once insurance company is done, engineers will have to take core samples of the steel and concrete base structure. That will help them decide if it can still be used or if the whole site needs to be scrapped.

And there's the surrounding area that also needs to be dealt with.

"My team and I are out here evaluating the damage to our common areas that we maintain, which is pretty much everything you see under the debris that's fallen down," property manager Pamela Lewis said.

Commanders say the fire burned so intensely on Tuesday, they even had to tap into to the reserve water system, which comes from two massive tanks in the city and a reservoir at Twin Peaks.

"When something gets of this size, it will exceed our domestic hydrants, which are the small, white hydrants on the corner," Abbott said. "So then we utilize our high pressure system, with are the larger, rounder color top hydrants."

Fire crews will remain on site to make sure there are no new flare ups.

Smoke and water damage means some residents living across from the burned out building won't be able to return for some time. Others though, are moving back in. While most of the units don't face the building that burned down, many residents are complaining about the pungent smell left by the heavy smoke.

"It felt really eerie," resident Lindsey Winn said. "There is like a haze of smoke and you can definitely smell the smoke inside."

The heat from the fire broke some windows at the Strata apartment complex located directly across the street. It also triggered some sprinklers.

"There is a ton of smoke and water damage from all the sprinklers and all the smoke that came through," resident Ashley Wellington said.

The city doesn't expect the area near the damaged building to return to normal anytime soon.

"A lot of it depends on how well the building collapses and what we find and if any flare ups do happen then we have to stop and address those," San Francisco Fire Batt. Chief Michael Thompson said.

Most of the evacuated residents had to stay in a hotel or with friends.

"I think we're going to bill renter's insurance if they allow for us to do so, but I paid out of pocket up front," resident Sunny Thiara said.

Many are beginning to realize that disruption will be the new normal.


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