The City

5-alarm fire in San Francisco’s Western Addition (video)

The helicopters are still here, and reportedly three buildings have been destroyed by a 5-alarm fire taking place about four blocks from where I live in San Francisco. The fire’s on Pierce between Golden Gate and Turk, and I walked over and got some photos and video.

Really awful stuff. I can’t imagine there’s been a fire this big in San Francisco this year, although fires seem to happen frighteningly often to residential buildings around here. The ones caught in this blaze look a lot like my apartment a half-block from Alamo Square Park — older buildings about three or four stories high — although we weren’t allowed to get close enough to see for sure (for obvious reasons).

I watched the fire from about a block and a half away for about 10 minutes until firefighters and police officers made the crowd of people I was watching with move back about 100 feet, so firefighters could have a “safe zone.”

I didn’t know there was a fire until I went up to my roof, because two helicopters hovering over my building and I thought, “This can’t be good.” When I got upstairs I saw a huge, tumbling black cloud emanating from what looked like a block away. When I got there fire engines were arriving to back up the several firefighters already on scene. As I watched the firefighters next to me holding ladders and assorted tools, listening to instruction, apprehension was visible on their faces. Not that they were afraid to help in any way they could, but it was apparent this was no ordinary fire.


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