SAN FRANCISCO — TheTuesday left residents and community leaders repeating calls for urgent action to address the growing safety concerns in the area.
The fire started shortly before 6 a.m., quickly growing as it swept through the construction site, causing the erected wooden framework of the building to partially collapse.
Over 140 firefighters were called to the scene. Five neighboring buildings were damaged in the incident and eight people were displaced, fire officials said.
Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association President Jennifer Laska was still in shock Tuesday afternoon. A resident in the area since 2017, expressed her deep concern for her neighbors displaced by the devastating fire.
“Look at what happened today. We have eight neighbors, at least, displaced. The building across the street got so hot that all of the windows are cracked on the front. So we don’t know how long those neighbors will be impacted,” Laska said.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time fires have occurred in the neighborhood. Laska recounted previous incidents that have raised alarm bells and said city officials were warned about earlier incidents.
“There was a car that was lit on fire. There was a tent in the median that was lit on fire, and cyclists that were passing by pulled someone out of that tent. And there was a fire that was at the site itself around April 24th,” she said.
In response to the concerning trend of fires, Laska and the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association sent a letter to the Mayor and other city leaders in May. It outlined their concerns about public safety and urged action. However, she said the community has yet to receive a response.
“We sent that letter out to the heads of different departments in the city and we basically got no response. So we outlined our concerns that something major could happen. And we don’t know if this fire was the result of a homeless encampment, but we know that we’ve had a string of fires here that have created a great concern for neighbors, and rightfully so,” Laska explained.
For Laska, the situation has become dire. She is calling on city officials to prioritize the safety of residents.Hsa
“When things like this happen, it feels like a gut punch. You know, we’re really trying hard to keep everyone safe; to make Hayes Valley a fun place that people want to come to. And then this….why won’t our city officials actually do something about this? I don’t understand. If they don’t have the resources to do it, they need to call in resources from the state, national guard, everything to triage these issues,” Laska said.
In response to the community’s frustration, the city acknowledged past incidents related to encampments and stated that the “Mayor remains committed to keeping the streets safe and clean through regular homeless outreach led by street outreach teams.”
As the investigation into the recent fire continues, the San Francisco Fire Department has not yet disclosed a possible cause.
“The origin and the cause of this fire will be provided once our investigators come to a conclusion at a later time,” said Captain Jonathan Baxter, a spokesman for the Fire Department.