File photo of the Mission and 22nd street fire in 2015.

Firefighters battled a four-alarm fire at the large three-story building that occupies the corner of 22nd and Mission Street for more than five hours Wednesday evening.  They continued to work past midnight after the flames had been contained, but not completely extinguished.

As of 8:50 p.m., there was at least one confirmed death, an adult male. Fire chief Joanne Hayes White said that the cause of death had not been confirmed. At least six additional people were being treated at an area hospital for smoke inhalation and burn wounds and more than 40 residents were displaced.

The Mission Market and a corner Popeyes dominate the ground floor of the three-story building, more than a dozen offices occupy the second floor and dozens of tenants occupied the apartments on the third floor.  Many of the tenants have been in the building for years.  The building is next to the new luxury high-rise, Vida that has only recently opened.

Janet Kornblum, a witness, took one of the first videos of the fire, which is time stamped at 6:48 p.m. In it, flames flare out of the upper windows, and it is clear that the fire was already under way and fierce.

While it began closer to the 22nd Street side of the building, the blaze quickly spread and escalated. According to Hayes White, the fire ran through the building’s attic, which enabled it to spread quickly throughout the third floor.

It was “Terrible,” said Kornblum. There were people trying to escape. “A boy on the fire escape with a dog and people just standing around recording,” she said.

“I escorted a bleeding man to firefighters,” she added. “No one thought to help.”

Chief Hayes White told reporters that firefighters had made at least 11 rescues, several from the fire escapes facing Mission Street and several more from the building’s internal staircase. Firefighters “knocked on every door,” said Hayes White.

Kornblum saw one victim put into an ambulance. It “seemed like he was in shock,” she said. “It was very very scary. Clearly the fire started in someone’s bedroom.I watched the kid with his dog … get onto the fire escape and get out of the building but I do wonder if there were other people in there”

The Red Cross set up a temporary unit for victims of the fire at City College’s Mission Campus. According to chief Hayes White, roughly 40 people have been displaced by the blaze.

Yanira Hernandez, one of the displaced, told Mission Local that she lives in unit 300 and then corrected herself, saying “I used to live there.” Her husband was one of the residents  hospitalized for smoke inhalation. She and her husband have called the building at 22nd and Mission home for 20 years. She says she has no idea where she’ll go after this.

District 9 Supervisor David Campos was on scene at the temporary Red Cross center.

“We’re working with the Red Cross to make sure everyone’s basic needs are met,” said Campos. “We are working with the city very closely to make sure everyone has a place to sleep tonight, we’re working to find them permanent housing.”

By 7:33 p.m. the whole upstairs was filled with smoke. A parapet caught fire on the second floor as flames moved toward 22nd Street. Pieces of the building fell from the edge of the roof as news crews got doused with the water. At one point, cheers went up as a crew from the ground aimed directly at the flames. Moments later a window belonging to the corner unit was smashed out and smoke billowed from inside.

Flames dancing on the edge of the roof were beaten back at around 7:45 p.m., but the fire continued to advance toward the corner of the building where Popeyes stands.

At 8 p.m., the police scanner reported that officials at the site were calling to clear the entire building. Firefighters were ordered to exit the building and fight the fire from the exterior for fear that the roof would collapse.

At 8:30 p.m., the flames seem to have subsided somewhat and firefighters were dousing the building with water and crews were back working on the roof.

Chief Hayes White told reporters at around 9 p.m. that the fire had not been contained. Arson investigators were on the scene and will be conducting an investigation. An initial statement by police department spokesperson Officer Grace Gatpandan late Wednesday night suggested that there was little reason to suspect foul play or arson.

As of 9:50 p.m., the flames continued and black smoke billowed above the building. Some witnesses thought they saw the roof collapse.

By 10:30 p.m. the flames were mostly contained, but chief Hayes White told Mission Local that firefighters were still battling what was proving to be a highly stubborn blaze.

In September, a five-alarm fire destroyed a building on Mission Street, only a block away from Wednesday’s fire.

Zachary Crockett has set up a fund for the displaced families at gofundme.

Editor’s Note: We may be a little slower getting out the news tomorrow. Mission Local’s offices were on the second floor.

The first video is from Janet Kornblum and was taken at 6:58 p.m.

Photo by Vladimir Caudillo

This is a breaking story and we will be updating soon.

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Founder/Executive Editor. I’ve been a Mission resident since 1998 and a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s J-school since 2019 when I retired. I got my start in newspapers at the Albuquerque Tribune in the city where I was born and raised. Like many local news outlets, The Tribune no longer exists. I left daily newspapers after working at The New York Times for the business, foreign and city desks. Lucky for all of us, it is still there.

As an old friend once pointed out, local has long been in my bones. My Master’s Project at Columbia, later published in New York Magazine, was on New York City’s experiment in community boards.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how you make that long-held interest in local news sustainable. The answer continues to elude me.

Andrea hails from Mexico City and lives in the Mission where she works as a community interpreter. She has been involved with Mission Local since 2009 working as a translator and reporter.

Daniel Hirsch is a freelance writer who has been living in the Mission since 2009. When he's not contributing to Mission Local, he's writing plays, working as an extra for HBO, and/or walking to the top of Bernal Hill.

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  1. Oh, no!!!! Great coverage and terrible circumstance. I am so sorry to hear about your offices, among all the other great losses in that fire.

  2. I live at 2524 Mission which is a few buildings down on the same side and I find it far too ironic that this is the second fire within months of each other and no one is talking about that. As a resident here I am nervous and quite honestly fearful of what people here are capable of. These are scary times and I for one want to speak out against future potential arsons.

  3. Thinking of you and everyone at Mission Local and who lived and worked in that building. In addition to the GoFundMe effort, please let us know what else we can do to help.

  4. I think you need do an investigation of why there seemed to be no “advance warning” in the building of the fire. I’m taking the phrase “no advance warning” to mean no functioning smoke detectors or fire alarms. Is that so? Who owns this building? Were the owners in full compliance with safety codes? Inquiring minds want to know.

  5. Dear Miss Lydia- you oughta’ let us know what some of us can do to help clean up your offices in the weeks to come. some of us are cash poor, but are strong and willing to get dirty gritty for you all. i know i am. and danny mondragon! oh, dear heart- i couldn’t be more proud if you were my own son. the low riders, the fires… brooklyn ain’t got nothin’ on all this. i told you you’d be the photographer for the revolution. you’re fearless and beautiful, baby! i’m sooo proud of you for making me not hate art and photographs anymore. you don’t make them passive like others who let people languish in fires. you actually make your art INTERACTIVE, somehow. i don’t even know what i mean because i think there aren’t words for it. maybe there shouldn’t be “words” for a change. thanks you all at mission local. you’re for real and everyone SMELLS it. you all ARE the story as you’re IN it. i love that. thank you again. you all are what we used to call with italics, “good people”. x –erika

  6. i’m glad you all are okay at mission local. and as for the screens disconnecting people from the immediacy of actually HELPING out, yeah–i got jumped by two tweakers and a pit bull a few months back, and NO ONE stepped in to help. i just heard some shouting off to the side. afterwards, when i was covered in blood and standing there, one guy ran up to me and proudly exclaimed, “i filmed the whole thing if you need it for the cops!”

    i just thought, “lovely.”

    i’m glad you all are okay.


  7. How do you fight our San Francisco tradition of renovation by arson? With an Exact Replica Law. Every building that burns must be replaced by a building of the same size, with the same look, and with the same tenants.

    Critics would call it the “rebuild a firetrap law.” But the law would require safe electrical wiring, adequate ventilation, and everything else in the California building code.

    California has regulations that apply to protected historical buildings. Historical buildings are both preserved and made safe under the California building code.

    The Exact Replica Law would require every burned building to be restored according to the building code for protected historical buildings.

    The Exact Replica Law would be the ultimate fire insurance.

  8. I am so sorry to hear about our neighbors losing their homes and all their possessions. It is sad to say that we are very suspicious of a fire that destroys a rent controlled apartment. I hope the city can help those families effected that need affordable living spaces in the mission.

  9. Do we know the name of the person who caught the little boy and his dog? I want to thank him for not standing idly by and then risking injury to save that little kid. He needs to be brought forward to serve as an example to those who would rather film or photograph than help. Every picture of the kid and the dog on the fire escape is a reflection of an individual who could have done something to help . I want them to think long and hard about it.

    Also of note, my husband went down to the fire and because he was dressed in his construction clothes was able to get very close to the scene. While he was standing with some firefighters a young woman in her 20s came to ask why the water wasn’t working in her shower. My husband took one look at her and said, “You don’t see something happening here?”

    1. I can’t believe it, God bless your husband for showing restraint, I would have knocked that lady out!!!!

  10. We should all be helping all those that have been displaced. Where will they go now after losing there home. Z it is great that you set up a relief fund. They will need as much help as they can get.

  11. Prior to the fire, Bartlett Strret at 22nd was closed due to construction. Did all the trucks, equipment, barriers, block access to emergency workers or possibly cause this fire. My heart breaks for the family’s and businesses that are affected. With a like fire less than a year ago I can feel nothing but suspicion on the cause, or at least how the city is over populated and over constructed.

  12. Many of these families were long time Mission residents. How ironic that the new monstrosity known as “Vida” is next door. A**wipes standing around being armchair journalists instead of helping folks escape is typical of our society today, just sad!

  13. The focus of a follow up story should be how people are more interested in shooting video than actually helping others in need. The one you can post to youtube, where the other would only possibly save a life.

    1. You see this at the Day of the Dead parade as well: tons of people with cameras up, not participating, just watching. What does this say about our community, about our compassion and neighborliness? No wonder so many evictions, so little protest.

  14. It was “Terrible,” said one eyewitness. There were people trying to escape. “A boy on the fire escape with a dog and people just standing around recording,” the witness said.

    This is exactly what I witnessed tonight. Just a sea of screens sending Snapchats and taking videos. It was hard to see. Thanks for your excellent reporting on this, and my heart goes out to the families who lost their homes tonight.

    I’ve set up a relief fund to help get the displaced families on their feet again:

    Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.

  15. Did we learn what started the fire on Mission & 23rd back in September? Now this. Seems like a developer’s dream.

  16. thanks so much for covering this story- does that mean you guys lost your computers in the office and your office space?