Holiday decorations ‘ruled out’ as cause of Richmond District fire

While the cause of a Richmond District fire that killed a man Monday afternoon is still unclear, one cause has been ruled out: holiday decor.

“Holiday decorations are not a contributing factor to this fire,” San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Jonathan Baxter told the San Francisco Examiner Tuesday, confirming they’ve been “ruled out” as a cause.

The City has not yet released the name of a man who died after he was pulled from the fire by emergency personnel. One firefighter sustained minor injuries in the incident.

City officials confirmed one couple who resided in the homes was out of town at the time of the fire. Another has a temporary residence, but officials were unable to confirm if it was provided by The City or not.

The two-alarm fire tore through residences at 1502-1508 Cabrillo St. near Golden Gate Park in the Richmond District at about 3 p.m. Monday.

Tuesday morning, one neighbor down the block swept blackened debris off the sidewalk. Another neighbor just across the street from the charred homes emerged from a side door next to a garage and simply stood, staring at the wreckage.

While the outside of the building is still a pale yellow, the inside was blackened by fire. Firefighters clad in uniform scaled a ladder from a fire vehicle to the roof, as a lone cloth Santa Claus billowed from the window of one burned room. Others stood outside, getting a run-down on the fire from a superior.

Dennis Lin, a 40-year Richmond District and San Francisco native, slowed down his bike outside the wreckage. He told the Examiner that some of the neighbors in that building — what may have been two couples — frequently smoke outside and chit-chat with him as he walks his dog.

Yesterday, he said, “I heard the helicopters” and headed over to see the homes that were burning. He spoke to a neighbor he knew, who told him they tried to help the man who was trapped inside, and later died.

“One of the neighbors was pounding on the door and couldn’t get an answer,” Lin said.

Outside the burned-out homes, a pile of rubble perhaps revealed something about those who lived there. A book titled “The People of BURNING MAN” lay charred in the pile, next to a photo album with photos of a smiling young couple sitting in each others arms in a new home, still visible despite the photos being marred by ash and burned along their edges.

Also in the rubble lay a red, black and white sweater, that looked appropriate for a cold winter, its edges browned from the fire.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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