A room on the third floor of the Curtis Hotel at 16th and Valencia streets caught on fire Friday afternoon.
San Francisco Fire Department Rescue Captain Scott Eberhart said two people required medical transport and two others were evaluated. Eberhart said they refused further care.
Valencia Street between 16th and 17th streets were closed off to vehicle traffic.
Abel Robinson Ancizar, who has been living in the building for seven years and lived next door to the apartment that caught fire, said he tried to get the man whose apartment was burning to leave.
“I was sitting down watching TV, getting ready for a doctor appointment,” he said. He heard the alarm, then someone knocked on his door and told him there was a fire.
Robinson Ancizar went next door to try to get the man, who he said was named Jason, out of the apartment. But he said Jason “punched the door closed,” then threw things at the door.
Robinson Ancizar then went around the third floor yelling to alert other residents of the fire and telling them to leave and then ran down the stairs. “I wanted to be able to get out because I have a bad leg,” he said.
His neighbor on the third floor, Trent, said Robinson Ancizar’s efforts were what alerted him to the fire. He was able to gather computers and other possessions and go downstairs unscathed.
The Curtis Hotel, a single-room occupancy hotel with some of the few affordable apartments in the Mission, is home to many longterm tenants like Randy, an older man who has lived in the building for 20 years. When Randy, who lives a few doors down from the apartment that caught fire, learned what was going on, he climbed down the fire escape from the third to the second floor where a firefighter met him and guided him down the stairs.
“The fire department did a fine job,” he said.
“They got on top of it pretty fast,” said Debbie, another resident who has lived in the building for about 10 years. She said the building has many older tenants and that she and her husband let firefighters know which apartments had aging residents who would need more help leaving the building.
Most residents were expecting that there’d be smoke damage to their apartments, especially on the third floor. They described big clouds of acrid smoke in the hallway, but said things were clear enough that staying low and crawling allowed them to avoid the worst. But many left their doors open so that firefighters would know that there were not people left inside. As such, they believe the smoke damage will be extensive.
A man several residents at the scene identified as the building manager refused to comment.
The business directly below the apartment that caught on fire, an Italian restaurant called Locanda, is closed for the night. Firefighters could be seen pouring buckets of water with debris out the front door onto the sidewalk, and the restaurant’s staff was huddled just beyond the caution tape around the scene, unsure of how extensive the damage was.