The scene Friday morning at 731 Treat, the home of 18 or so people. Photo by Julian Mark

Firefighters are swarming a blaze that broke out around 9 a.m. this morning at 731 Treat Avenue.

The green, two-story building appears to have sustained significant damage. Some of the tenants in the single-family structure, however, told Mission Local’s Julian Mark that their rooms were undamaged. The exterior staircase between the upper unit and the ground appears to be totaled.

Perhaps 18 people reside in this building. Six adults and a child purportedly live upstairs, with around 11 living downstairs.

A police officer at the scene told Mark that one woman has been hospitalized with an ankle injury. A tenant said she leaped from the burning building. Two other injuries were reported.

A 23-year-old tenant named Rafa Beralta lives in the downstairs unit with 10 other family members. “I was sleeping and there was a fire. I grabbed my cat and ran out. There was a big flame under the stairs [to the upstairs unit]. I felt the heat.”

An upstairs tenant named Herman Garcia, 51, said he noticed a fire at around 9 a.m. as well. He knocked on his fellow tenants’ doors to inform them and then, theatrically, escaped his home by leaping onto another building.

Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department, confirmed that 18 people live here, and that 15 adults and three children are displaced. He reiterated that three minor injuries have been reported, and the fire is under investigation. The fire apparently originated on the exterior of the building. This is a one-alarm fire. The SFFD is evaluating the sum of the damage.

Red Cross and other housing services will assist the tenants if they cannot expediently return to their homes.

This is a breaking story and will be updated as more information is obtained.

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. This is listed as a SFR with 1400 sq ft and 3 bedrooms … even assuming that it has been illegally converted to 2 units, that’s still an extremely small space for 18 people. Aren’t there limits to how many people can be legally crowded into a residence?

      1. dude, this is no free market. Supply is tightly controlled by “community” activists and elected/appointed government officials. Additionally – price controls are in effect which has led to negative consequences as price controls throughout history are apt to do.

    1. In San Francisco we generally try to avoid legislating that other people follow our lifestyle. Laws and regulations rightly focus on health and safety – such as forbidding fire hazards. Most likely the other options these families have would be worse – like living in an RV or in a shelter.

    2. Under the new Kim Legislation, which became part of the Rent Ordinance in November of 2015, landlords must generally permit two persons in a studio, three persons in a one-bedroom, four persons in a two-bedroom, six persons in a three-bedroom, and eight persons in a four-bedroom. Neither the Rent Ordinance nor the Rent Board’s Rules and Regulations define a “person” as being an adult, minor, or either. As such, there is no clear legislative directive as to who is a “person” for purposes of adding new subtenants under the Kim Legislation.

  2. When was the last occupancy inspection done, that allowed 18 people to reside in that home?

  3. Sorry to hear about this. It’s relieving to know that there were no fatalities. As an aside, Treat ‘Street’ is actually Treat Avenue according to city records. I live on it.

  4. I think it is really sad that the first thought of many here was to remark on the illegality of having 18 people living there.
    My first thought was, OMG where will all these people live?

  5. Now everyone is trying to blame people who live there eve though the article states that the fire may have originated Outside the unit. If 18 people live there is because there’s nowhere else for them to go!

  6. I’m curious… When is the last time any of us had an “occupancy inspection” in our home?
    This does sound crowded as hell and it sounds like there must be some inherent health and safety problems with so many people in such a small space with… how many bathrooms….? But; who comes into our houses to routinely check up on us? Do you want that in your house?

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