Previously: Photos, Video: Three-Alarm Blaze Behind Beach Blanket Babylon

A three-alarm fire in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood displaced six residents and caused about $1.35 million worth of damage Monday night after it spread throughout multiple units of an apartment building, fire officials said today.

At about 11:15 p.m. Monday, units responded to fire that was initially reported in a building in the 500 block of Columbus Street, San Francisco fire Lt. Ken Smith said.

Firefighters arrived within minutes, Smith said, but discovered the fire was actually burning in a unit located behind a three-story building of residential flats in the 600 block of Green Street, also called Beach Blanket Babylon Boulevard because of a variety show performed in a theater on that block.

Smith said it took three tries to find a point of entry, and by the time the fire was controlled around 12:15 a.m., four units had sustained significant damage and a neighboring building was slightly damaged.

Property damage totaled $1 million, and there was $350,000 in content damage, he said.
Although the fire had time to grow because of the location complications, it could have been worse, Smith said.

“It could have grown in a ‘T’ pattern and then caught buildings across the street on fire with radiant heat, but the crews did an excellent job,” Smith said.

Smith said there were no injuries. The Red Cross put six people up in a hotel Monday night after their units suffered varying degrees of damage, said Donna Logan, of the San Francisco chapter of the Red Cross.

Photographs were taken of the damage and the reports are being analyzed to determine when residents can return home, Logan said.

“We’re concerned with making sure they’re safe for the night or a couple nights after,” Logan said of the fire. “We will help coach them with the next steps, and we can provide some material support thanks to private donations.”

“It’s the good people of the community supporting their neighbors when this happens,” she said.

Jo Schuman Silver, producer of the 34-year-old Beach Blanket Babylon show at the Fugazi Club, said the fire happened next-door to the theater, but the building was unharmed and the show schedule has not been interrupted.

The fire department contacted the theater’s general manager late Monday night, and by the time he reached the theater a few minutes later, the fire was contained, she said.

“The fire department was amazing,” Schuman Silver said. “They just handled it very well and dealt with it very quickly.”

More than 95 personnel responded to the blaze overall, and the cause is still under investigation, Smith said.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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