After a three-alarm fire in San Francisco’s Mission District displaced dozens of people last Saturday, the community is stepping up to help the affected families, according to local community organizers.
A total of 39 adults and four children, according to the American Red Cross, were displaced by the fire which broke out at two addresses in the 3200 block of 23rd Street and affected as many as three other buildings, fire officials said.
The fire was first reported around 9:45 a.m. at two multi-unit apartment buildings at 3220 and 3222 23rd Street where there were six families living, fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.
The fire spread to three other buildings on 23rd Street at 3224 and 3224-B and two units at 763-765 Capp Street, Talmadge said.
The overall damage to property and contents in the homes amounted to roughly $815,000, according to Talmadge.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, Talmadge said, however it does not appear to be suspicious.
One firefighter suffered from smoke inhalation and other minor injuries from battling the blaze, and was treated at a hospital and released, Talmadge said.
One pet cat was killed in the fire. No other injuries were reported.
Liz Shermaria with the Red Cross said 20 of the affected victims, many of whom are families, are in hotels provided by the Red Cross. They will stay at hotels until Jan. 7.
After next week, the organization is working with city officials to get temporary and permanent housing for the victims.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross has also been providing food, clothing, referrals for other services, and general and mental health assistance, Shermaria said.
The Tzu Chi Center, a Buddhist organization, is helping the Red Cross with financial assistance, Shermaria said, while Dolores Street Community Services is holding an ongoing clothing drive.
Lidia Salazar, office manager at Dolores Street Community Services, said anyone can drop off supplies for the men, women and children affected by the fire.
Mostly clothing donations are needed she said. Items can be dropped off at 938 Valencia St. anytime between Monday and Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Ben Amyes, emergency response coordinator with the city’s Human Services Agency, is holding a meeting for affected tenants Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Mission Economic Development Agency, or MEDA, offices at the Plaza Adelante nonprofit center at 2301 Mission St.
Amyes said the meeting is a way to bring the tenants from 13 different addresses together to discuss issues that affect them all.
“My main concern is helping people find housing,” Amyes said. “We want everyone to go back into their units when they are rehabbed.”
He said most of the homes damaged in the fire are expected to be eventually repaired and ready for residents to return.
In the meantime, the residents need temporary, affordable housing, which is tough to find in San Francisco’s tight housing market, Amyes said.
Other nonprofit and community groups will be at the meeting to address other concerns, Amyes said.
A Facebook page established for the fire victims lists MEDA as an organization to send any monetary donations.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News