Fire guts Mission District apartment building


The fire started in a corner building and the flames jumped up through a ventilation shaft into the building next door. Five people were injured including four firefighters. 37 people were displaced.

"I took two fire extinguishers and tried to put the fire out, but the fire was too big, so I back out," Sultan Alkraisat recalled. He had a lot to lose in this fire. He runs a popular cafe on the ground floor of the four-story apartment building at 204 Valencia. His mother lives in a third-floor unit. His brother and sister live in another apartment on the same floor.

Alkraisat saw smoke billowing up from the basement in the back of the building next to his. Flames were shooting into his building. He rushed up the stairs and alerted his siblings then, he saved his disabled mother. "My mom, she's 65-years-old. She's a diabetic. She doesn't see well and I carried her from the third floor to the bottom," he said.

Battalion Chief Marty Ross says there were other heroes too, the firefighters who went inside the burning buildings and stopped the wind-swept flames from jumping into adjacent apartments. "The guys who were actually doing the work, the guys inside, and these guys really did a good job," he said.

Three firefighters were injured when a staircase they were on collapsed. Chief Ross took ABC7 News inside the buildings Monday to the top floor to see what was left of the stairwell and the charred remains of the two buildings. On the exterior of the building where the fire started, the windows are gone but the facade is still in place. Inside, almost nothing was left. "There's a lot of damage. People, they really don't see that. They see a little fire coming out of the windows," Ross said.

The injured were all treated and released. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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