8:43 AM: Fire officials are investigating what caused three separate blazes to break out within a couple of blocks of each other in San Francisco’s Castro District early this morning, a fire spokeswoman said.
The first fire was reported at 4:25 a.m. in a trash can located in a locked and gated area behind a building at 2248 Market St., fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.
Firefighters responded and quickly put out the blaze, which “was pretty straightforward in terms of response and extinguishment,” Talmadge said.
Shortly after 5 a.m., a second fire broke out at 3620 16th St., an apartment building located near Market Street, Talmadge said.
Firefighters responded to the fire, which “was going pretty good when we arrived on the scene,” and a second alarm was called at 5:11 a.m., Talmadge said.
A firefighter suffered a minor ankle injury while battling the blaze, which was extinguished as of 6:05 a.m., she said.
The fire displaced 17 residents from the building, none of whom were injured in the blaze, Talmadge said.
The blaze appears to have originated on the exterior of the building, but the cause remains under investigation, she said.
A third fire was reported at about 5:30 a.m. at a building under construction near the intersection of 17th and Hartford streets, according to Talmadge.
A second alarm was also called for that fire at 5:39 a.m., and the fire spread to an adjacent building. No one was injured in the blaze, which was extinguished as of 7:15 a.m., she said.
The third fire also started on the exterior of the building, leading investigators to believe that the blazes may be suspicious and somehow related, Talmadge said.
“It’s important that the investigators look at each of these fires individually and collectively, and they will do that very thoroughly,” she said.
Two second-alarm fires happening at the same time sent firefighters scrambling from elsewhere in the city to cover firehouses left empty by crews that responded to the blazes.
“With two alarms worth of companies in an immediate area, it leaves the rest of that area fairly unprotected, so we pull companies from other parts of the city to cover,” Talmadge said.
Having two such fires going on at the same time is “unusual but it’s happened before,” she said.
She said the incidents were “a great example of all the talk about keeping our fire stations open, because we can’t have companies gone in a case like this.”
Investigators will be working today to determine the cause of the fires and exactly how much damage they caused, she said.
The American Red Cross also responded to the fires and is assisting the residents who have been displaced, Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie Finke said.
6:49 AM: Roughly 17 San Francisco residents living in one Castro District apartment building were displaced by one of three fires burning just blocks from one another, according to a Bay Area American Red Cross spokeswoman.
The fires–one at 17th and Hartford streets and another around the corner at 16th and Market streets–were reported shortly after 5 a.m., a San Francisco fire dispatcher said. According to Haighteration, a third fire was reported in a trash can near Market and Noe, and was quickly extinguished.
A second alarm was added to the fire at 17th and Hartford streets at about 5:40 a.m., the dispatcher said, and firefighters were still working to extinguish the blazes as of 6:30 a.m. As of 7 a.m., the streets in the area remain closed, and the F Market’s service has been disrupted.
No other information about the structures or possible injuries was available, but Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie Finke said that the building at Hartford Street was under construction and was unoccupied.
Finke said that the fire at 3620 16th St. affected about 17 residents from two units.
The extent of the assistance the Red Cross plans to provide was yet to be determined as representatives were just arriving at the scene at about 6:30 a.m., according to Finke.