House fire displaces families in Mission District
Photo by Ian Elwood
By Ian Elwood
April 7, 2006
At 3:00pm today, amid the sound of clustering electrical explosions
and light rain, a fire broke out at a two story house on the 400
block of Bartlett Street in the Mission District. The first house
to set fire was the upstairs unit of the building at 455 Bartlett
Street. The cause was a faulty electrical connection from a television
in the front room, firefighters say. The only person who sustained
injuries was a firefighter who cut her thumb and went to the hospital
The fire started on the top floor at the front of the house in
a recreation room that contained decorative neon lights, a pool
table and a television. Flames engulfed the entire house, and
singed the adjoining house next door. The smoke was so thick that
half of the block was obscured from view. Electrical wires that
had been attached to the facade burned off and fell to the street,
creating a flurry of sparks as they flailed about.
Firefighters from Station 11 at 26th and Church Streets arrived
ten minutes after the fire became visible from the street, which
is all that it takes to completely destroy a home. The crowd that
had gathered was dangerously close to the blaze, which had since
reached its apex. Firefighters cleared the sidewalk as the street
filled up with hose and ladder trucks.
Members of the displaced families wept on the sidewalk as the
rain turned to light hail. One of the residents who lived in the
top floor unit said that he had tried to put the fire out at first
with buckets of water, then with a hose, but to no avail.
The Red Cross arrived an hour later, taking information from
the displaced residents. The San Francisco Water Department and
Police showed up. PG&E responded to handle the burned electrical
wires that fell from the house, which continued to emit sparks
until they were secured.
In total two units were completely destroyed, with over 10 people
displaced, adjacent units were badly damaged by smoke. There were
two units on the basement floor that were occupied by businesses,
one of which belonged to the Latino family that sells flowers
at the 24th Street BART station. The basement units suffered nominal
damage and firefighters say there was no evidence of occupants
at the time of the fire.