Photo by Joe Rivano Barros

Firefighters responded to a small fire at a San Francisco building on Mission and 22nd streets that was rendered uninhabitable by a fire in January 2015 that killed one man and displaced some 60 people. A second, three-alarm fire erupted in the building in mid-March.

Monday night’s fire affected only a small area in the upper north corner of the Mission Street side of the building, said Assistant Chief Tom Siragusa. The small blaze started at 8:33 p.m. and was out within about 20 minutes of firefighters’ arrival on scene.

Siragusa did not specify what caused the fire and said it was under investigation, but radio traffic overheard during the firefighting operation indicated that a cigarette butt flicked from the Vida apartments next door was a possible culprit.

“Possible indication on cause, someone dropped a cigarette butt from the roof of the apartment building next door,” another firefighter could be heard saying. A balcony to one of the Vida apartments sits just 10 feet above the corner where the fire started, and people could be seen congregating on it when firefighters arrived on scene.

Robert Rosales, a passerby who was on break from work, was walking by when someone sitting on the street pointed out the fire.

“It looked like it was a small thing,” Rosales said. “I thought Popeye’s was on fire for the third time!”

Fire engines surrounded the building just after the fire started, and police closed down Mission Street from 21st to 22nd streets for about an hour.

Demolition crews have been working on dismantling the building to bring it down to street level since an emergency alteration order issued by the city in February. The building has been a source of tension since the fire last year and was picketed in March over concerns of non-union labor being used in its demolition.

The Fire Commission will hold a hearing in the Mission District at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27th, at 362 Capp Street, though a department spokesperson said the meeting room had a capacity of just 100. The meeting will be recorded, though not live-streamed by SFGOVTV and made available after the hearing.

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Senior Editor. Joe was born in Sweden and spent his early childhood in Chile, before moving to Oakland when he was eight. He attended Stanford University for political science and worked at Mission Local as a reporter after graduating, before spending time as a partner for the strategic communications firm The Worker Agency. He rejoined Mission Local as an editor in 2023.

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  1. When will the owner of this building be held accountable to keep the site secure? He lets it rot and become a dangerous nuisance and this is the third, yes third time it has gone up in flames. How many police and fire personnel been called here and at what cost?


  2. Lol “did not specify what may have caused the fire”.. in a condemned empty building for the third time in a year.