At 5:15 p.m., residents of the two Victorians containing the units 510, 512, 508 and 506 Capp Street stood outside and watched as their homes continued to burn. Capp Street had been blocked off at 20th Street, but the fire looked to be under control.
The fire had broken out on the second floor of a Capp Street Victorian an hour earlier. It jumped north to the duplex next door, and the sound of chainsaws filled the air as firefighters cut through the walls of the buildings in order to get firehoses to the fire. By the time it was contained, another building on 20th Street, behind the Victorians, had also sustained damage.
The fire displaced nine people and left one fireman with minor injuries, which have since been treated. None of the residents were injured.
The fire began at 510 Capp Street, the second-floor unit of a duplex. It then spread across the second story to the upper level of 508 Capp, where a man who asked to be identified only by his first name, Eric, lay sleeping. He awoke to the smell of smoke and got out in time, but left his phone inside the house. “This is the worst day of my life,” Eric said.
Mario Ramos, 81, a resident of 510 Capp with his 45-year-old son, Andres, said that he had been living in the apartment for 30 years, though he said that recently the landlord has been trying to evict them.
Ramos said that the firefighters were able to save his five pet birds and the family’s dog, Boogaloo. They also managed to save one of the cats in Eric’s apartment. A second cat managed to resist rescue until 6:30, when firemen and animal control managed to trap it in a cage and bring it outside.
Firefighters said that the cause of the fire was unclear. It spread quickly, they said, because of the wind.
The fire spared the house of the late conceptual artist David Ireland, which is next door and on the corner of Capp and 20th Street. The house became a major project for Ireland, and many of his works are still inside. Ireland died in the summer of 2009, and the house was purchased by Carlie Wilmans, a trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and California College of the Arts. Wilmans recently established an artist-in-residency program at the site.
At press time, the Red Cross had arrived and set up in a trailer outside Alioto Park. The organization will arrange for a hotel room for anyone displaced by the fire.