A two-alarm fire gutted a multi-unit building at 1230 Page St., between Baker and Lyon streets Monday afternoon. The blaze first broke out around 3 p.m., according to witness Bryce Bishari who was on the scene. (Full disclosure: Bishari is this reporter’s fiance.)
Bishari was driving west on Page Street when he saw a plume of smoke. “Large flames were jutting out from the already broken window,” he says. He went to call 911 but neighbors emerging from their houses were on it; instead, he helped the residents escape the blaze.
“Right as people walked out of the house the windows started exploding with glass shards and hot ash,” he says. As people exited they took their jackets off in the doorway, covering their heads before running across the street.
But one young woman, who escaped the building as the fire was worsening, had no shoes on, or a jacket to cover her head. Her whole path was littered with hot ash and broken glass. “Every time she took a step forward to leave there would be another miniature explosion and more glass and debris would fall down,” Bishari says. He ran to his car and grabbed a jacket, which he threw across the sidewalk to her. She covered her head and ran across the street toward Bishari, who grabbed her hand and helped her sit down on the curb across from her house.
A San Francisco Fire Department chief on the scene says there were no serious injuries. Approximately 19 people appear to have been displaced — including the landlady. As firefighters worked to extinguish the flames, residents hugged each other and cried.
A neighboring building badly scorched by the flames is still under investigation by firefighters, to see if any embers remain and if it’s habitable for the residents.
District 5 Supervisor Vallie Brown was on the scene. This is the second large, multi-unit fire her district has experienced in three months; a Dec. 13, 2018, fire displaced 18 on Hayes and Baker streets. In that circumstance, every single person who requested housing was given it; a vast improvement over years past, when the city had few resources to offers those displaced.
“Red Cross and the Human Services Agency are on their way, and they’ll assess the situation,” Brown tells SF Weekly. “We’ll put them in a hotel for a bed, and then we’ll help them find permanent housing. We have a couple different complexes — like Park Merced — that’s been really great about letting people in to rent for six months or a year, however long it takes to get back into their units. We have a lot more flexibility and power to rent units than we used to.
“It’s horrible that here we are again with another fire,” she added.