The building housing Bartfeld Sales Co. was one of two that burned to the ground in down in a five-alarm fire on July 28. (David Sjostedt/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Business, property owners pick through the wreckage after five-alarm fire

Business and property owners affected by a five-alarm fire just south of the Central Freeway stood at the scene on Wednesday evaluating the damage and trying to retrieve items from the wreckage.

The fire, which started early Tuesday morning in the area of 14th and Shotwell streets, completely destroyed two buildings and damaged another four in the largely commercial and light industrial area, according to the San Francisco Fire Department.

People who work and own property in the area said they were saddened to see the commercial buildings come down.

A San Francisco firefighter walks past the damaged Van Ness Auto Body building. (Shandana Qazi/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Roy Salume, a San Francisco native whose mother owns a property housing an auto-mechanic shop on 14th Street, said he worries this could be the first step toward the gentrification of an area where he worked one of his first jobs.

“Every time there’s a big fire in San Francisco, there’s developers who come out and try to buy it and redevelop it,” he said. “Every time, a little bit of old San Francisco disappears.”

Legislation that aims to prevent office spaces from moving into certain zoning areas in the Northeast Mission was introduced by District Supervisor Hillary Ronen in February, and passed the first round of votes from the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

San Francisco firefighters on Wednesday put out hot spots following a five-alarm South of Market blaze the previous day. (Shandana Qazi/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Amy Beinart, an aide for Ronen, said she hopes this will enable business owners affected by the fire to remain.

“One of the biggest competitors for space, particularly in that end of the Mission, has been offices,” Beinhart said. “We want to try and encourage the ability of these small businesses, these small trades and light manufacturing, to come back as much as possible.”

The City is also working through the Office of Economic and Workforce Development to provide resources, workshops and funding for businesses affected by the fire, according to Beinart.

(Shandana Qazi/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Salume said he already has in mind a team of contractors and construction workers to help rectify the damage to his mother’s property, and said his family has no intentions of selling the building.

“We’re grateful nobody got hurt,” he said. “It definitely has some damage, but that’s not compared to the other buildings in the area that were made out of wood. Our building was made out of steel.”

Lt. Jonathan Baxter, a spokesperson for the San Francisco Fire Department, said fire crews remained on the scene Wednesday putting out hot spots, but reduced their numbers from a peak of around 160 firefighters on Tuesday to about 25 to 30. One firefighter was sent to the hospital for injuries, but is now reported to be back at home.

(Shandana Qazi/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

(Shandana Qazi/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

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