Five apartment buildings burned in blaze near USF

More than 100 San Francisco firefighters battled a blaze Tuesday evening that engulfed five apartment buildings on two adjoining streets near the University of San Francisco.

There were no injuries resulting from the three-alarm fire that officials said began on the roof of 812-814 Central Ave. Roughly a dozen residents were displaced, said Woody Baker-Cohn, a spokesman for the Red Cross.

Three buildings on Central Avenue were ablaze, as were two on the perpendicular 1900 block of McAllister Street, said Lt. Ken Smith, a spokesman for the San Francisco Fire Department.

The Fire Department was alerted just after 5 p.m. when someone pulled a street firebox, Smith said. The fire was contained by around 6:15 p.m., although firefighters worked to rid the structures of water and debris long after the embers were out.

Willie Eashman, the owner of the 812-814 Central Ave. building, said he was home when the fire broke out, prompting him to pull the box.

“I’m shocked it happened,” Eashman said.

Around 7 p.m., Eashman, standing in black slippers, watched firefighters remove debris, including a television, from his building through its windows.

His neighbor, Christian Burnett, who lives at 820 Central Ave., watched the removal as he prepared to go to a friend’s house carrying his saxophone and suitcase.

Burnett said he was just getting out of the shower when he saw the flames shooting out of the other building.

Yellow emergency tape Tuesday evening prevented him from entering the building as firefighters tried to rid it of debris.

“I’m going to come back tomorrow to get more stuff,” Burnett said. “I need to get as much as possible out.”

Smith said because the buildings on McAllister Street and Central Avenue are connected in the rear, the design provides an easy way for fire to spread.

“It’s always a challenge in San Francisco,” Smith said. “You can burn a block in 10 minutes.”

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