59 displaced from Mission District fire

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image none"><span>none</span></div><span class="caption-text">Picture from the alley, on the backside of the apartment building. &#40;Sent in by Lance Martin&#41;  (Lance Martin)</span></div>
March 18, 2008 10:58:03 AM PDT
Dozens of San Franciscans chased out of their homes by a fast moving fire last night will briefly be allowed back into their apartments today. They'll be allowed to grab a few belongings.

Meantime, arson investigators are trying to figure out what sparked the blaze in two Mission District buildings. Firefighters have been out all night, making sure there are no flare-ups of what was a very intense, very hot fire.

The fire broke out on Valencia Street between 25th and 26th Streets at about 6:00 pm Monday night. There were two wood buildings that burned for about 90 minutes. Almost all of the 30 units are considered uninhabitable, but the people who lived in the units will be allowed to go back in about 8:30 this morning to salvage what they can. Authorities say at least 59 people were displaced from the fire and dozens spent the night in a Red Cross shelter.

Over 130 firefighters were on the scene, and kept the fire contained to the two buildings.

"We're crawling, we have 15 to 20 minutes of oxygen with those tanks. So getting personnel in here on a fourth-alarm assignment to relieve those crews and keep rotating guys and firefighters back in and out was the crucial part of that," said Lt. Ken Smith, San Francisco fire dept.

One firefighter and one resident had to be taken to the hospital and be treated for smoke inhalation. Firefighters managed to rescue several pets, four cats were saved but two cats did die in the fire.

The big question remaining is what caused the fire? Arson investigators are still working on an answer to that.