Thursday's fire in the Mission began in the back unit of the third floor apartment at 3356 24th street. According to a downstairs neighbor, one victim was found unconscious in the area when firefighters arrived at the scene.

The building that caught fire Thursday morning, critically injuring two, has a long history of building code violations and a pending report in which it is “deemed unsafe,” public records show.

In a notice of violation dated Jan. 5, 2009 — a complaint that’s still pending and unresolved — the box labeled “unsafe building” is checked and, among nine violations, “there are no smoke detectors,” the report states.

That proved disastrous on the morning of Dec. 1, when a fire broke out in the upstairs unit at 3356 24th St. Residents said that others who smelled the fire woke them up just after 4 a.m. No one remembered hearing any alarms go off.

Twenty-three tenants living in two adjacent buildings were evacuated.

The building is owned by Susanna Shaw. Several calls by Mission Local to Shaw went unanswered. Tenants have been unable to reach Shaw since the morning of the fire.

“It’s crazy, they had just asked for smoke detectors the day before,” said Anna Fizyta, referring to the third-floor tenants’ request to Shaw.

Fizyta, who has lived in the building for several years, believes that Shaw has been attentive to major concerns regarding the building and showed compassion to her tenants. However, Fizyta said that timeliness wasn’t always a factor.

Fizyta’s unit suffered extensive damage. It is directly below the area on the third floor where it is suspected the fire began.

Inspectors visited the building multiple times over the last three years and cited, among other things, the absence of smoke detectors and an approved secondary exit. They said the situation posed a serious life hazard to the building’s occupants.

The inspectors’ reports also questioned whether fire-resistant materials and methods of construction were used in the construction of the dwellings. The citations were unabated at the time of the fire, records show.

Since 1994, the city has issued multiple citations against Shaw, who owns a dozen properties throughout Noe Valley and the Mission.

Two of the tenants at 3356 24th St. suffered critical injuries. Fizyta said one victim, found unconscious in the area where the fire originated, suffered severe burns and remains in critical condition.

Citing an ongoing investigation, the Fire Department could not confirm the location where the victim was found.

The other victim listed in critical condition suffered serious lacerations as he tried to escape through a third-story window. In addition, two other tenants were hospitalized for smoke inhalation. The Fire Department declined to comment on the current condition of those injured.

The fire spread to the nearby floors of the same building — 3360 and 3358 24th St., which are also owned by Shaw, according to public records.

The apartments just east of those — 3354, 3350 and 3352 24th St. — suffered smoke and water damage and were also evacuated, but there were no injuries, according to the Fire Department.

In total, 94 firefighters were called to the scene, one of whom suffered smoke inhalation.

At several other properties owned by Shaw, city inspectors have noted missing fire extinguishers, combustible and flammable items stored illegally, and the obstruction of exits.

Ted Gullicksen from the San Francisco Tenants Union said Shaw was “habitually negligent,” citing the large number of complaints his organization has received from tenants throughout the years.

“She’s notoriously bad,” said Gullicksen.

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Juan's a photojournalism major at San francisco State University. His years in the Journalism department inspired him to work on various projects abroad, covering issues as diverse as poverty in South Africa to multiple pieces in Ghana on West African music.

Along with his work at Mission Local, he keeps regular tabs on West African music on his blog: www.digging4gold.tumblr. com

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  1. Wow. I just moved into one of her buildings.

    I hope she gets arrested!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. “The building is owned by Susanna Shaw. Several calls by Mission Local to Shaw went unanswered. Tenants have been unable to reach Shaw since the morning of the fire.”– Susanna Shaw never ever pics up her phone ever. I was one of her tenants for years. just leave a message and eventually she will get it and she’ll most likely call u back.

  3. Thanks for the “insider” information, Bertie. I’m surrounded by a mix of renters with absentee landlords, condo owners, and single family houses with lots of “friends” who come at all hours. Each of these types of set-up produce both great neighbors and dangerous, even criminal ones. Sweeping generalizations don’t work. You have to know the specifics.

    1. I also lived at 3358 24th St for several years (’92-’96), and Susanna lived there for at least two years as a “roommate.” She was absolutely bizarre, unresponsive to any concern, and totally negligent. I am saddened to hear that she still owns these properties; the tragic result being the horrible injuries suffered by her tenants

  4. Listen to the commoners complain. Instead of gratitude toward their betters for preventing any shelter even if not the grandest the low castes just whine and moan.

    Shut up and obey your masters.

  5. Thanks to Mission Local for keeping on this. Sounds like a very sketchy owner. Sounds like tenants who may have disabled smoke alarms. (Also, SOMEONE started the fire.) Sounds like city inspection which came to very little. And maybe there were other issues with unevictable tenants and controlled rents too low to maintain the building. It all needs to be sorted out. Hopefully it will be. Thanks for keeping on it, Mission Local.

    1. Nope. I lived for several years at 3358, the middle unit, and though we paid market rate rent, there was NO maintenance of the building. Shaw was a very nice person, but nothing short of rent strikes had any effect on: replacing broken windows, removing black mold, fixing a non-functional oven, etc. It was pretty depressing.

  6. Mr. Gomez may want to revise this posting after reading a story that previously appeared on this blog (01Dec11) where a resident was quoted stating that there *WERE* smoke detectors but the residents had disconnected them.

    “Wolfe said that in her apartment they had disconnected the smoke detector because it went off when they cooked. “It was stupid, just stupid to do that,” she said as she sat surrounded by her belongings.”

  7. nonetheless, she was negligent as she was aware of the problem…unacceptable. Two people remain in critical condition as a result.

  8. I understand it’s the landlord’s responsibility to install smoke detectors, but if your landlord doesn’t, you can get your own for about $10. Don’t count on someone else to keep you safe.