By Rick Hurd, Contra Costa Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Firefighters continued working Wednesday morning to bring under control a massive five-alarm blaze that destroyed a high-rise building being built near AT&T Park in the city’s Mission Bay neighborhood, authorities said.
The fire was contained, but crews were still pouring water on hot spots, including one that briefly ignited, and expressed concerns that two walls may still collapse. The fire, which began shortly before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, caused catastrophic damage to a quarter-billion apartment complex under construction at Fourth Street near China Basin.
One firefighters suffered first- and second-degree burns on his hands, and a battalion chief suffered an ankle injury, but no other injuries were reported, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said.
She also confirmed that the primary fire damage was contained to the MB360, a $227 million apartment complex being developed by San Francisco-based BRE Properties Inc. The project was slated to open sometime later this year.
“It was a phenomenal display of team work” that kept the fire from spreading, she said Wednesday. Two nearby apartment buildings were evacuated during the blaze. Both apartments have about 200 units but one of them is only at 40 percent capacity and might be used to house residents of the other apartment building until it is deemed safe for residents to return, said San Francisco Fire Deputy Chief of Operations Mark Gonzales said.
It was not known immediately when that would be.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said about 30 units in the neighboring apartments were evacuated and that windows were blown out in 30 units. He said automatic sprinkler safety systems in those apartments remained on Wednesday morning. He said the fire appears to have started above the ground where workers were doing some welding on the apartment.
Fourth Street remained closed on Wednesday morning, as did portions of other streets in the area. It was expected to remain closed for much of the day.
San Francisco MUNI train officials confirmed that trains are running on Third Street as scheduled Wednesday morning.
The blaze spread through the building quickly and sent embers floating toward nearby structures. Shortly before 6 p.m., one side of the building collapsed, and a fire dispatcher with the department confirmed the structure was collapsing internally.
About 150 firefighters aggressively attacked the flames for several hours, keeping the blaze from spreading to other buildings.
“We were very concerned about the neighboring buildings,” Gonzales said.
The American Red Cross responded to the scene to assist nearby residents displaced by the fire. A Red Cross employee said there were reports of heat damage and that windows were broken at the Strata.
The company’s Block 11 site, which is also part of the MB360 development and contains 188 units under construction, was not affected by the fire.
“We are currently assessing the situation, including the cause of the fire, and we will be consulting with the appropriate authorities,” the company said in the statement.
BRE Properties said the company has comprehensive insurance coverage for events such as the fire, and believe any losses to the company caused by the fire will be covered by insurance.
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