San Francisco firefighters battling blaze in Lower Haight 

click to enlarge SFFD is at the scene of a two-alarm building fire on Haight and Fillmore streets in San Francisco. (Rob Nagle/The Examiner) - SFFD IS AT THE SCENE OF A TWO-ALARM BUILDING FIRE ON HAIGHT AND FILLMORE STREETS IN SAN FRANCISCO. (ROB NAGLE/THE EXAMINER)
  • SFFD is at the scene of a two-alarm building fire on Haight and Fillmore Streets in San Francisco. (Rob Nagle/The Examiner)
  • SFFD is at the scene of a two-alarm building fire on Haight and Fillmore streets in San Francisco. (Rob Nagle/The Examiner)

Firefighters continue to battle a fire that has grown to four alarms in San Francisco's Lower Haight neighborhood.

The blaze was reported at 4:08 p.m. at a three-story building on the corner of Haight and Fillmore streets.

No injuries have been reported, a fire dispatcher said.

Flames and smoke were no longer visible as of 5:45 p.m., but firefighters are still on the scene putting out hot spots, according to fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge.

The first floor of the building is occupied by a Walgreen store while the top two floors contain 25 residential units. The blaze started on the third floor and quickly spread across the top of the building, Talmadge said.

The fire did not spread to the second floor, however it did sustain water damage, she said. The corner of the building appeared to sustain the most damage and windows were broken on a number of units on the top floor.

American Red Cross personnel are on the scene to assist displaced residents although it was not immediately known how many residents are affected.

Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, also at the site of the fire, noted that many people were at work or on their way home when the fire broke out.

"Many do not know what has just happened to their housing," he said.

Fire officials said the cause of the fire is not yet known, however investigators are responding to reports that early responders heard popping sounds. It was too soon to tell if the cause of the fire is considered suspicious, Talmadge said.

Emergency crews have closed the streets to traffic for a block in each direction. Several San Francisco Municipal Railway bus lines have been affected by the blaze. The 6, 22, and 71 lines have been rerouted as emergency crews continue to battle the fire, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said.

Pierre Pegeron, co-owner of the Lo-Cost Meat Market at 498 Haight St., said he was at work when he saw flames coming out of a window on the top floor of a residential building across the street.

He ran to the building and was soon joined by Gustavo Manzanares, who had been hired by the building's owner to do some painting there.

Manzanares had a key to the building and opened the street-level door, and they began knocking on apartment doors to get residents out, Manzanares said.

"One gentleman was in his apartment right next door to where it started," Manzanares said. He said the man grabbed his laptop and left the building.

Pegeron said that when he entered the building he sounded the fire alarm and grabbed an extinguisher, but was unable to put out the blaze.

"It was too intense," he said.

Manzanares said at one point it looked like Pegeron was losing his strength. At that point, he said, "We just kind of grabbed each other and came out of there."

Afterward, Pegeron was treated by paramedics and returned to his store.

"I got a little oxygen," Pegeron said.

Speaking by phone from the meat market around 4:15 p.m., he said windows were shattering outside and there was a power pole in danger of falling.

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Monday, Oct 20, 2014

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