Smoke billows out of an apartment building
Fire at Potrero Hill Annex and Terrace. Photo from SFFD Twitter

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 near 3 Turner Terrace, said Fire Captain Jonathan Baxter in a video statement released after 1 p.m. The location of the fire was later confirmed as 706 Missouri St.

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.

The aftermath of the fire. Photo by Christina MacIntosh

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.

Missouri St

South of

Market

Arkansas St

Sierra St

One adult was rescued

from 706 Missouri St

by the fire department,

but later succumbed

to their injuries and died.

Potrero

Hill

22nd St

Mission

Turner Tr

Potrero Hill

Recreation

Center

Bayview

North Beach

Missouri St

One adult was

rescued from 706

Missouri St by

the fire dept.,

but the later died

from their injuries.

Sierra St

22nd St

Turner Tr

Potrero Hill

Recreation

Center

Potrero

Hill

Mission

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. 

https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/1618339546248417280/pu/vid/1280x720/4AxjhGO22ZeOFStk.mp4?tag=12

Originally tweeted by SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT MEDIA (@SFFDPIO) on January 25, 2023.

“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. 

A fire on Hayes Street near Divisadero. Photo taken Jan. 22, 2023 by Eleni Balakrishnan.

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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