5-alarm fire sends multiple Mission warehouses up in flames [Updated]

Photo: San Francisco Firefighters 798/Twitter
By Teresa Hammerl - Published on July 28, 2020.

Just before 7 a.m. this morning, a five-alarm fire broke out in a group of warehouses on 14th Street, between South Van Ness and Folsom streets. 

Fire Department spokesperson Jonathan Baxter said that at least six separate commercial buildings were involved in the heavy fire, whose origins remain unclear. Building supply company Bartfeld Sales Co. (140 14th St.), located across the street from the FoodsCo grocery store, has been burned down to the structures. 

As of 10:30 a.m., the fire is 90% contained. A team of more than 150 firefighters remain hard at work trying to save neighboring buildings, including an auto body shop that "has lots of hazards in it," Baxter said.

According to Mission Local, one firefighter sustained moderate injuries battling the blaze, when debris fell on his head. He was taken to SF General Hospital.

The flames could be seen throughout the city, including on the nearby Highway 101 overpass. With live wires down, power has been cut to some of the neighboring buildings. Those who can smell the smoke — which is expected to travel as far as the East Bay — are advised to stay indoors.

Officials are also asking the public to avoid the area, where the 14-Mission and 49-Van Ness/Mission buses have been rerouted. Anyone displaced by the fire should head to the parking lot of Rainbow Grocery (1745 Folsom St.), where the American Red Cross is offering services.

Here are more photos and videos of the fire from Twitter. We'll continue to update this story as it unfolds. 

Update 12:45 p.m: The San Francisco Fire Department says that "forward progress" of the fire has been stopped and crews are currently working on hotspots and flareups.

Baxter also noted that three residents have been displaced and officials continue to evaluate the businesses affected. One of them, All Pets Hospital (269 S Van Ness Ave.), is "temporarily closed." Clients with pet emergencies are advised to go to SF Veterinary Specialists (600 Alabama St.) or Blue Pearl in Daly City.

Update 6:45 p.m.: In a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Baxter said that the fire investigation task force is working to determine the cause of the fire. At the moment, it appears that the blaze broke out at the back of the 140 14th St. building, on Erie Street. He also noted that this is preliminary information which “could change once it is safe” for investigators to get closer. 

The injured firefighter was released from the hospital and is recovering.

Baxter also confirmed that a cat remains missing and although “crews went in looking” for the cat, no cat was found. Baxter hopes that the cat was able to get out and will be reunited with the guardians soon. 

Crews will remain on scene as this is still an active fire and hotspots could flare up. Firefighters will continue to ensure the “stability of this incident and the safety of the public,” Baxter said. He compared the situation to the recent Pier 45 warehouse blaze where flareups were also observed.

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