Massive fire in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood under investigation

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The massive fire in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood is still active.

Fire investigators say it was extremely fast moving when it broke out this morning near South Van Ness Avenue and 14th Street.

The fire damaged half a dozen buildings and displaced three people.

More flames and flare ups again on Tuesday night which is what firefighters were concerned about.

They’ve been hitting the building with water for the past 13.5 hours and only paused once for about 30 minutes.

They expect to be out on the scene for another few days to monitor the area.

“Everything’s gone. Everything I can see through the window, nothing. It’s all burnt, flames, all my equipment gone,” Naetitia Verdeaux said.

Business owners in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood returned to burned, crumbled walls and many – if not all – items destroyed.

“I’m heartbroken. I’m still in shock. with the pandemic and everything. This was the last thing I was waiting for,” Verdeaux said.

Naetitia Verdeaux owns a catering business inside one of the six commercial buildings that this fire tore through.

Next door at Bartfeld Sales, the fire was still burning into Tuesday night.

“So the one that they’re still putting out because there’s so many materials in there, it’s hard to put them all out because it such a large, large building,” Brian Bartfeld said.

Brian Bartfeld’s family owns Bartfeld Sales, a building materials company on 14th Street that’s been here since the 1940’s. 

“The day’s been surreal I guess you could say. When you get a call at 7:30 a.m. from your mom telling you that your building’s on fire, you think she’s joking with you right? And then you turn on the news on every channel and your worst nightmares a reality,” Bartfeld said.

Right now, firefighters believe the fire started in the rear of their building.

“We have no idea. As I’m sure you’re aware there’s lots of homeless in the area, perhaps that could’ve been something,” Bartfeld said.

Another one of the six buildings was an art coalition housing project, where three people lived. 

Those people are now displaced, in addition to the many workers who had jobs at these businesses.

People who were showing up to work Tuesday morning captured images of the huge wall of flames and the massive column of thick black smoke.

Some were just waking up and had to scramble to get out in case the fire moved in their direction.

“It was quite scary, we just decided to grab our personal belongings important ones and just evacuate so we did evacuate very quickly,” Vijay Raghu said.

One man was asleep inside his business, along with his dog at the time.

“I looked at the skylight in my building. There was a column of black smoke about three or four feet wide. I grab my dog out went outside, brought her out, within 20 minutes the entire block was in flames,” Scott Perkins said.

His building was flooded by the water used to put out the flames.

“It’s devastating for the business along with everybody and COVID and business down many ways for a lot of businesses. For being in lock down, for so long something like this you got to take it in stride just assess get our feedback under us and get back to work,” Perkins said.

The fire also damaged the Sheriff’s Department Field Operations building and deputies had to move weapons and ammunition that was stored there.

Rainbow Grocery wasn’t burned but they had to evacuate staff and closed for the day because all the firefighting and heavy smoke in the area.

No lives were lost in the blaze.

One firefighter was injured earlier this morning but has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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