sffd_firefighters.jpgTwo fires that broke out within a block of each other in San Francisco’s Castro District early this morning are believed to have been intentionally set, a fire spokeswoman said this afternoon.

The two second-alarm fires, one reported shortly after 5 a.m. at 3620 16th St. and the other at about 5:30 a.m. at 3943 17th St., each originated on the exterior of the buildings, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.

Investigators are also working to determine whether the fires are related, Talmadge said.

“There are a lot of common factors,” she said. “The most obvious are the time and location, and both of those fires’ point of origin was on the exterior.”

The 16th Street fire displaced 13 people, nine from 3620 16th St. and four others from an adjacent building at 3626 16th St., she said.

A firefighter suffered a minor ankle injury while battling the blaze, which was extinguished at about 6:05 a.m., Talmadge said.

The other fire broke out at 3943 17th St., an empty building under construction, and spread to an adjacent building at 3945 17th St. before it was extinguished as of 7:15 a.m., she said.

The family living at 3945 17th St. is on vacation, and officials do not know how many people living in that unit will be displaced, Talmadge said.

The Bay Area chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting residents who have been displaced by the fires, spokeswoman Melanie Finke said.

A small trash fire was also reported in the area earlier this morning.

The fire was found in a trash can in a locked area behind a building at 2248 Market St. and was quickly extinguished, according to Talmadge.

Investigators are asking for the public’s help in figuring out who may have set the fires. Anyone who has information about the case is asked to call the San Francisco Fire Department’s arson investigators at (415) 920-2937.

The Police Department is also investigating the case, Talmadge said.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!