(Courtesy Dan Whaley @dwhly)

Pier 45 warehouse goes up in flames

Four-alarm fire causes walls to collapse, threatens nearby historic ship

A four-alarm fire at Fisherman’s Wharf destroyed a warehouse on Pier 45 early Saturday and threatened a historic ship anchored nearby.

Fire crews evacuated the occupants of the pier and were able to save the SS Jeremiah O’Brien floating museum from the flames, officials said.

One firefighter was injured and is in stable condition, and a fire truck was damaged. No civilian injuries were reported in the fire, which was first reported about 4:15 a.m.

Musée Mechanique, which is also located on the pier, does not appear to have been damaged.

The blaze was contained to one area of the pier, but multiple walls of the warehouse collapsed, San Francisco Fire Lt. Jonathan Baxter said.

The fire was under control by 2 p.m. and displaced at least three tenants of the warehouse, fire officials said.

The fire damaged the underside of the pier, which will be examined by the port officials for structural integrity, Baxter said.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin said the fire burned down the office space of sightseeing cruise company Red and White Fleet, and damaged sheds in an area where a seafood processors operate. It also destroyed a large quantity of fishing gear stored by local fishermen.

Fortunately, he said, the businesses all appear to have had their own insurance, and the Port of San Francisco is also insured for the building. And while insurers have balked at paying out business interruption insurance for COVID-19 closures, fires should be covered.

The timing is bad, however, for seafood wholesalers and fishermen who have already been hurt by the loss of restaurant and catering business during the shutdown. Some have recently expanded retail sales and deliveries in an effort to stay afloat.

“The good news is, nobody got hurt, the fire is out,” Peskin said. “The bad news is that this is the last thing the fishing industry needs right now and my heart goes out to them. The city will do everything we can to help them.”

Water2Table, a seafood wholesale company based on thepier, posted a series of dramatic photos of the fire Saturday and said they had suffered some damage and lost equipment but that their building had survived, despite being barely 50 feet from the fire.

“The building next to us is gone and has collapsed,” the company said in an Instagram post Saturday morning. “So far we have lost about 15k in equipment and 3 trucks. I may have damage to most of our vehicles. Currently power is out so we are worried about our inventory.”

“My biggest fear is the status of the entire pier,” the post said. “[Fifteen] fish businesses on the pier and we are hoping we are not locked out or the safety of the pier and wood pilings are in question. If so this will be a true historical disaster for the local fishing industry.”

Kenny Belov, the owner of TwoxSea, another seafood company on the Pier, noted dryly in an Instagram post that “Needless to say we might be a little late on deliveries today.”

Officials said at around 150 firefighters were at the scene Saturday working to contain the blaze.

The cause has not been determined.

Bay City News contributed to this report. This is a developing news story and will be updated.

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