Ceremonial bucket causes South S.F. temple fire

A bucket used for ceremonial burnings at a Hindu temple in South San Francisco was the source of an early Monday morning fire that caused $80,000 in damage to the temple.

No one was injured during the one-alarm blaze that started from a ceremonial bucket used for the burnings and resulted in heavy fire and smoke damage to the former gun shop, fire officials said.

This was not the first time the Fire Department has been called to the Maa Sher Awali Temple on 1001 Airport Blvd.; neighbors have previously called on several occasions during ceremonial burnings because of the smoke the indoor burnings cause, fire officials said.

The Monday fire was reported at 2:09 a.m. by a passer-by who reported smoke coming from the building, South City Battalion Chief Dave Quasney said.

When firefighters went inside, the building was “fully charged with smoke,” Quasney said. Firefighters had the fire under control by 2:30 a.m., the battalion chief said.

Amdhra Naidu, a neighbor of the temple, said that if you were in the area, you could not help but see the smoke. “It was all this smoke all around and on the top floor — everywhere,” Naidu said.

Quasney said the bucket was up against a wall and “had been smoldering for quite awhile before” firefighters arrived at the temple, he said.

It was unknown what was burning in the bucket, he added. “It caused heavy damage to the wall and the ceiling of the assembly room,” Quasney said.

The Fire Department’s FirePrevention Bureau is investigating the fire. No charges have been filed.

dsmith@examiner.com

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