A three-alarm fire that spread between two residential buildings in the Mission this morning was contained after about an hour, and no injuries were reported. In total, 27 tenants were displaced from the two apartment buildings, and it’s unclear when they will be able to return.
The fire was reported at 8:34 a.m. near the rear of two buildings: a four-story, 16-unit building at 3525 17th St. and the adjacent three-story, two-unit building at 3517 17th St. near Guerrero Street, said Jonathan Baxter, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Fire Department. By 9:42 a.m., firefighters had contained the flames.
“Our crews did an aggressive interior attack of the fire,” said Baxter, adding that a rescue squad combed the buildings and found no victims. Neighbors and residents were evacuated and “no one needed medical assistance,” he said.
The source of the fire remains unknown, but Lisette Mejia — a fourth-floor resident of 3525 17th St. — took photos of fire crawling up the space between the two buildings. She said she woke up and saw that smoke had filled the hallways.
“I was about to leave for work and then I saw smoke in the interior [stairwell and hallway],” said Mejia, who said she exited the building towards the back where she waited in a garage area and watched firefighters battle the flames.
“I was trapped in the back with a bunch of other guys. It looked like the fire was from the back of the building, ” said Mejia. She said the fire appeared to be burning from a panel in between the two buildings that and “jumped up from the panel to the roof” of the four-story building.
Mejia was told by firefighters that it would be at least a day until she could enter her unit because of extensive water damage.
Baxter said that all four floors of 3525 17th St. were affected by fire or water damage, with heavy damage to the back units and the attic while some of the building’s front units were unaffected. Only two of the three floors at 3517 17th St. were affected, although he could not specify which ones.
Fewer than 30 people lived at the four-story building in 16 units, and Baxter said 22 people were displaced from that building but did not know when they could return.
Lisa Geduldig is a second-floor resident of the four-story building at 3525 17th St. who said she was lying in bed when she heard “crackling” noises at 8:30 a.m. As she looked out of a side window towards the back side of the building, Geduldig said she saw smoke billowing of what she thought was her building.
“It looked like it was coming from the backyard,” she said. Geduldig said she was able to gather some belongings before opening the door of her apartment and screaming “Fire!” and “Evacuate!”
Elmwood Gee, a second-floor resident of the adjacent three-story building at 3517 17th St., said that the bottom unit is vacant and that the five people in his unit were able to evacuate — all five of whom are currently unable to return to their home.
“Everyone got out fine,” said Gee, who lives with his wife, a niece, a nephew, and a guest. Gee said he also woke up to crackling noises before witnessing smoke billowing from a side window and calling 911. “I put on my clothes and by that time the firefighters told us to evacuate.”
Dylan Bunnell, who was sleeping in a van parked across the street from the apartment buildings, said the fire looked to be coming from the back of the three-story building and then moved over to the four-story building.
“I just woke up and saw a bunch of fire trucks and smoke,” said Bunnell. “It wasn’t like a ton of smoke at first but then it got bigger. It seemed like it kind of moved over.”
Red Cross staff were at the scene coordinating tenants who were displaced from the buildings.