'I couldn't see': Residents describe terrifying escape from SF apartment fire that displaced 60

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ByLuz Pena via KGO logo
Sunday, June 20, 2021
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60 people are displaced tonight after a fire broke out in a 6-story building around 6 a.m. in the Sierra Madre Apartments on 421 Leavenworth St, San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- 60 people are displaced tonight after a fire broke out in a 6-story building around 6 a.m. in the Sierra Madre Apartments on 421 Leavenworth Street, San Francisco.

ABC7 news reporter Luz Pena spoke to victims who escaped through their windows on to a fire escape and jumped into actions to help others.

Inside the Sierra Madre Apartments in San Francisco's Tenderloin, the flames were moving fast from the 4th to the 6th floor threatening at least 60 residents who were just waking up.

"I couldn't see anything because the smoke was coming to my face and the smoke was super heavy. So what did you do? I closed the door immediately and I tried to escape," said San Francisco resident, Yohana Romero.

On the 6th floor, two stories above what's believed to be epicenter of the blaze, resident Yohana Romero ran back inside her apartment and grabbed what was closest to her.

"My cell phone and my charger that's it. This is my stuff for work and my glasses," said Romero and added, "I lost everything."

Romero escaped through her living room window on to a fire escape. On her way down she saw her elderly neighbors screaming out for help.

"They are super old and I don't know how when I saw his window they had heavy smoke outside and I said 'Oh my God,'" said Romero.

On the side of the building firefighters rescuing at least 20 residents, along with several pets. San Francisco Fire confirmed 15 residents sustained minor injured and 60 are displaced. SFFD thanking San Francisco police officers who were first on scene saving lives as the flames erupted. One officer sustaining non-life threatening injuries.

"This is a building that is supportive housing. Mostly seniors. There are also some families in the building. It was a terrifying scene this morning but thankfully everyone was able to get out safely," said San Francisco Supervisor, Matt Haney.

As the investigation begins to find the cause, Supervisor Matt Haney is working with the Red Cross to find housing for those displaced.

"The fire displaced people from 44 units. We have about 60 people and this was an a TNDC housing project so they are working to find empty units so people can be transferred to another shelter unit," said Donna Logan, American Red Cross Disaster Action team lead.

As to Yohana Romero, she's glad this time she trusted the fire alarm and escaped in time.

Luz Pena: "You thought this was a false alarm because you have heard the fire alarm go off before?"

Yohana Romero: "Before, many times. Usually I open the door and nothing happened, but this time was terrible."