S.F's Warming Hut’s reopening pushed back

Because of water damage from an unusual fire, the Warming Hut at San Francisco’s Crissy Field will not reopen until late September or early October, officials said.

The former Army shed, which operates as a “green” cafe and bookstore, became infested with a “microbial growth” after firefighters drenched it on Jan. 25, said Rich Weideman, spokesman for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Removal of that growth, as well as a planned remodel of the kitchen, has added to the length of the repair process.

The shed caught fire afteran electric car belonging to the nonprofit Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy caught fire. The car, a Daimler Chrysler GEM, was not plugged in when it ignited.

Because food is prepared and served in the building, strict controls govern the reconstruction, Weideman said. Almost all of the areas where the microbial growth was detected must be removed and replaced. Some of the exterior was able to be cleaned, Weideman said.

Crews have finished removing the tainted building materials and were set to begin the new construction this month, Weideman said. The construction work will include replacing the floor, roof, interior walls and many of the windows, Weideman said.

The hut’s exterior still includes the original Army siding. “They [the workers] have to do a delicate balance on the side where there is historic fabric that was burned. They have to stitch the building together,” Weideman said. He said crews would use a siding that matches the old Army siding.

Conservancy spokesman David Shaw said the repairs, which will include a kitchen remodel to boost efficiency, will cost about $1 million.

“We’re working on a goal of getting it reopened by September or early October,” Shaw said.

He stressed that the remodel would not affect areas frequented by the public, but he did not elaborate on the nature of the remodel.

The conservancy’s insurance company is exploring legal action against Daimler Chrysler, but no such action has been taken yet, Shaw said.

In October 2005, another Daimler Chrysler GEM caught fire on Treasure Island. No one was hurt in that blaze. The January fire at the Warming Hut also did not result in injuries.

While work continues on the hut, visitors to Crissy Field are being redirected to the Crissy Field Center for coffee, books and souvenirs. The Crissy Field Center is located across from the marsh, at the corner of Mason and Halleck streets.

amartin@examiner.com

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