An Potrero Hill public housing building went up in flames this afternoon, killing one person, fire department officials have confirmed.
Just before noon, the fire department received reports of a first alarm fire and three people in need of rescue on the third floor of 703-715 Missouri St., said Fire Captain Jonathan Baxter in a video statement released after 1 p.m.
Baxter said only one unit in the building, which purportedly has 13 units, was legally inhabited.
“Most likely the people that were involved were in there squatting,” said Battalion Chief Kevin McKeon, who was on the scene this afternoon. Five occupants and several dogs are now displaced.
Three individuals were rescued by bystanders, according to the Fire Department’s Twitter account. The Fire Department rescued two more from the top floor via ladders.
Baxter said they were not injured, but rescue crews located one adult in the building, who soon died on the scene.
“I knew this was going to happen,” said Lonnie Green, who arrived this afternoon to pick up the only legal resident of the building and her son. Green, who grew up in these projects, said that the police are often in the area, and “sit on the corner and watch” as occupants squatting in the building would build open fires to stay warm.
One adult was rescued
from 3 Turner Terrace
by the fire department,
but later succumbed
to their injuries and died.
One adult was
rescued from 3
by the fire dept.,
but later succumbed
to their injuries
Map by Will Jarrett. Basemap from Mapbox.
Green said that the four additional units in the 13-unit building had been occupied for more than a year.
“This could’ve been prevented, had housing authority or SFPD removed those people while they were out there welding” or doing other possibly dangerous activities, Green added.
Multiple videos and photos of the building showed fire and clouds of smoke billowing out of the top floor of the three-story apartment building, which sits on the edge of the Potrero Hill Recreation Center and playground green area. The fire was contained to only that building.
The cause and origin of the fire has not yet been determined.
“San Francisco Fire was confronted with multiple challenges combating this fire. This area is very steep with hills, very narrow streets, and lots of overhead wires,” Baxter noted in his video. He told Mission Local that, in addition to the people rescued here, fire personnel tracked down a lost cat and resuscitated it with oxygen.
The city has seen multiple large fires this month, with a building fire at 20th and Alabama streets displacing 22 tenants, and another at Divisadero and Hayes early Sunday morning displacing 25 more.