Officials said 17 adults and four children have been displaced by the fire as flames spread to an apartment building next door. It took several hours to knock it down.
PHOTOS: Crews battle 3-alarm fire at Rolling Stock in SF's Mission District
"It was scary," Matthew Hernandez said. He jumped out of bed Sunday morning and grabbed his dog, Tino, after his dad Cesar sounded the call that there was a fire burning next door.
"I said, 'Hey, hey. FIRE! FIRE!" Ceasar recalled.
The fire at Rolling Stock Tire Shop was intense and quickly jumped to three alarms. More than 100 firefighters attacked the flames from all sides, fueled by burning tires.
The thick, black smoke could be seen for miles.
Early on, the roof of the shop collapsed. "There's a heavy amount of material in there and when the roof collapsed, it fell down a lot of where the fire is. Because of the structural integrity of the building, we won't make entry into the building," SFFPD Asst. Chief Dave Franklin said.
"I said oh my God, our building's going to just collapse down. The flames were going right near it," fire evacuee Norma Pizarro said.
Pizarro was one of the 21 residents who ran from their green, three-story apartment building on 16th Street.
"They were right next door to us. If it goes up, it's going to go up, it's going to go up bad," evacuee Oscar Lepe said.
Lepe shot cellphone video moments after the fire erupted.
Luckily, firefighters saved the apartment building but fire, smoke and water damage left it red tagged by city inspectors.
"The main thing is that nobody got hurt," said Jim Albera, who owns the building that was destroyed by the fire.
Albera believes it may have started from garbage dropped by next door tenants onto his roof. "Yeah, garbage. All kinds. We took off 5 or 6 sacks just last week to keep the drains clean, you know when it rains," he said.
Firefighters have not determined a cause. There were 20 people working at Rolling Stock Tires, all of them now out of a job.
The Red Cross is assisting nearby residents who were displaced by the fire. They were briefly allowed to go back into the building to collect belongings.
Red Cross volunteers have opened an evacuation center at 520 S. VanNess for residents impacted by this morning's SF's Mission District fire.— Red Cross Bay Area (@RedCrossBayArea) November 8, 2015
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