San Francisco city leaders met today with owners of businesses on Ocean Avenue that were damaged in a four-alarm fire last week to assure them that the city is committed to helping in their recovery.

Mayor Ed Lee joined Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, police Chief Greg Suhr and other city officials this morning at a meeting with merchants from the 1500 block of Ocean Avenue in the city’s Ingleside neighborhood.

Ten businesses were damaged along that block in the Aug. 7 fire, and Lee said the city is determined to assist them by expediting permits for new construction or helping to seek new locations for the businesses.

“We’re ready to help them get over this disaster immediately,” he said.

Lee said he wants to make sure the businesses stay in San Francisco.

One of the buildings involved in the fire was destroyed and will have to be razed. That building contained three businesses–Happy Bakery and Deli, King’s Coffee & Tea and Lili Knit Creations.

Several businesses in the adjacent building remain closed, including Renaissance Furniture Restoration and Diamond Hair Studio.

Hayes-White said it appears the accidental fire was sparked by roofing work being done on one of the two buildings that were damaged.

The flames spread through the attics of the two adjacent buildings, causing an estimated $3 million in damage, fire officials said.

Christine Young, a friend of the owner of Happy Bakery and Deli, said the incident has caused a lot of unrest.

“It’s very, very difficult,” Young said. “I could barely sleep the past few days.”

She said the owner planned to look into finding a new location for the business with the help of city officials this afternoon.

Lee said the city also plans to help employees at the businesses.

“We need to get them on to economic recovery at the same time,” he said.

The fire burned for more than an hour and a half before crews got it under control. One firefighter suffered an irregular heartbeat while battling the blaze, and another suffered a minor shoulder surgery. Both have since been treated and released.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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