Firefighters dispatched twice before locating fatal fire

Firefighters were called to the area of a single-alarm fire in San Francisco’s Monterey Heights neighborhood twice this morning before finding a burning house with a body inside, fire department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said.

Firefighters responded about 2:10 a.m. to a report of a smoky smell about two blocks from the backside of a house on Saint Elmo Way, Talmadge said. Crews searched for 20 minutes without finding the origin of the smell and left the area, Talmadge said. Shortly after leaving, firefighters received another call reporting the smell of smoke, this time one block away from the house on Saint Elmo Way, Talmadge said.

After an extensive search, firefighters saw smoke puffing from the roof line of the two-story house at 160 Saint Elmo Way and were able to confirm a fire at 3:19 a.m., Talmadge said. Crews controlled the fire at 3:56 a.m. and using heat-detecting cameras located a body, according to Talmadge. Fire officials have not determined how the victim died, Talmadge said.

“It’s possible that this particular fire smoldered some time before it actually became visible,” Talmadge said.

The person has not been identified, according to the San Francisco medical examiner’s office.

Two firefighters sustained minor injuries while combating the blaze and were taken to San Francisco General Hospital. The cause of the fire is under investigation and damage estimates have not been made available, Talmadge said.

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