A two-alarm fire broke out at a three-story residential building and a restaurant on Mission Street between 25th and 26th at around 2:30 p.m. Friday, displacing 15 residents.
At around 2:45 p.m., firefighters appeared to have the blaze under control at both a three-story residential building at 2970 Mission St. and the Old Jersusalem restaurant at 2966 Mission St.
During an initial sweep of the three-story building, firefighters found no victims with injuries, according to Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a fire department spokesman. The fire department later tweeted that the Red Cross of Northern California is working with 15 displaced residents, who will receive shelter and aid.
— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) July 3, 2020
Mission Street between Cesar Chavez and 25th is blocked off to traffic, with buses being diverted away from 25th Street.
Raul Hernandez and Samuel Hernandez, both cooks at Old Jerusalem (they aren’t related), said that around 2:30 p.m. they ran out of the building once they learned of the fire.
At around 2:15 p.m. Laura Nevas, who lives in a building just north of 2970 Mission St., was sitting at her dining room table with her three children, including her four-month-old child, when she saw smoke, gathered her children, and left the building.
Baxter said that by about 3 p.m. that firefighters were locating the final sources of smoke. All the restaurant workers were accounted for, he said. He also said that witnesses reported fireworks in the area immediately before the fire broke out. “At this time the investigation is ongoing,” he said. “It does not mean fireworks were the cause of this fire.”
The co-owner of Old Jerusalem, Hajem Almujdad, said “We got some damage, especially a lot of water from the firefighters’ hose, so we are going to be closed for a while”
George Lipp, a friend of Almujdad and a contributor to Mission Local, said he went later in the afternoon to take photographs of the damage. Several times, he said, he heard family members say that they were grateful no one was injured. “‘This can all be rebuilt.’” one of them said, Lipp reported. Of those who had been displaced, another family member asked, “How can they recover in these times?”
“I never once heard any of them say anything about their loss except to estimate how quickly they could reopen the restaurant,” Lipp wrote.
Pedro Gil, who owns Casa Guadalupe, a bodega across the street from Old Jerusalem, said he was fixing an ATM when he was alerted of a fire across the street and he called 911. He said he saw 20 feet of smoke rising from the roof of Old Jerusalem. But he said he wasn’t scared. “It was just smoke, and I didn’t see too many flames,” he said.
He did not hear fireworks before the fire started.
Jose Rivera returned to his apartment on 2972 Mission St. after grocery shopping at Casa Guadalupe. Shortly after, he heard his apartment ring and some neighbors yelling, “Fire! Fire!” Rivera tried to quickly grab important residential documents and get his two daughters and wife out of the building.
“The smoke was so strong when we were leaving, it was hard to breathe,” Rivera said. “I was scared. I was with my two daughters when the neighbors alerted us.”
He said he believes that the apartments above may have partially caught fire because of its proximity to the restaurant. He saw a lot of smoke, but no flames.
The extent of the damage is unclear. The walls of the ground-floor nail salon at 2970 Mission St. are completely black and covered in soot. And firefighters were collecting large debris from the roof of Old Jerusalem using a crane. Those who were directly affected were cordoned off and talking with first responders.
“It’s really sad,” Rivera said motioning to the scene.
Check back for updates.