Part of Mission Street to remain closed due to fire

Mission Street between Seventh and Eighth streets will remain closed through Wednesday and possibly until the end of the week, as a vacant building that caught fire Tuesday morning is to be demolished, a San Francisco Department of Building Inspection spokesman said.

Firefighters battled the one-alarm fire at 1133 Mission St. throughout the night, allowing it to burn it hot spots, according to San Francisco Fire Department spokesman Lt. Ken Smith.

According to Department of Building Inspection spokesman William Strawn, his department will issue an order to the property owner early Wednesday morning to demolish the wood-frame and brick building, which dates from the 1890s, he said.

“It's structurally so weak, that we think it presents a hazard to the street and the immediately adjacent buildings,” Strawn said.

Reopening the street depends on how quickly the building's owner assembles bulldozers and other demolition equipment, takes down the building, and removes the debris, a process that could last until Friday, according to Strawn.

Until the demolition is completed, Mission Street between Seventh and Eighth streets will remain closed.

Despite rain, the building smoldered throughout Tuesday, billowing dark smoke in San Francisco's South of Market District. Firefighters had been battling the blaze at the three-story building since about 7 a.m. Officials were worried that a collapse might send part of the structure into Mission Street.

The building, emblazoned on its street-side entrance with “Knights of the Red Branch,” was undergoing renovation and may at one time have been used as a dance hall for an Irish fraternal organization, according to fire officials.

The building directly adjoins the San Francisco Fire Department's Local798 union hall, which so far has not been damaged.

Firefighters earlier Tuesday could be seen spraying water and flame-smothering, biodegradable foam into the building, through its front windows and partially collapsed roof.

Stress cracks from the heat broke through the surface of the building's exterior.

This morning, the roof's collapsing rafters injured one firefighter, causing all firefighters to be pulled from the building. A second firefighter was injured later in the day, according to Smith. Both firefighters were treated at the hospital and released, Smith said.

Fire officials received calls about the fire beginning at 6:50 a.m., but Smith said the fire “was probably burning for some time before they got there.”

Workers at the building told fire officials they left at 10 p.m. Monday, according to Smith.

The cause of the blaze is currently unknown.

Bay City News

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