Massive fire strikes San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, spares WWII ship

 latimes.com  05/23/2020 17:01:40 

San Francisco Pier Fire
A fireboat continues to pour water on Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco on Saturday morning after a massive fire erupted overnight at a warehouse.

Firefighters were able to save a historic warship after a massive fire ripped through a warehouse at Fishermans Wharf in San Francisco on Saturday morning.

The fire broke out about 4:15 a.m. in a large warehouse at the end of Pier 45, said Lt. Jonathan Baxter, public information officer for the San Francisco Fire Department.

The warehouse is not occupied at night, but homeless people are believed to go inside to sleep, Baxter said.

The fire was quickly called to four alarms, drawing 150 firefighters and 50 pieces of firefighting apparatus to the scene.

When the first truck responded, the flames were so high they reached above its aerial ladder. The truck sustained some damage as firefighters kept it in place to spray water on the fire, but it proved crucial in keeping the blaze from spreading, Baxter said.

Flames also threatened the Jeremiah OBrien, a World War II liberty ship that participated in the D-Day invasion and is now a tourist attraction.

One fireboat, was positioned to protect the historic vessel and a second assisted in pumping thousands of gallons of water from the San Francisco Bay on the west side of the blaze, Baxter said.

The only damage to the Jeremiah OBrien was some minor paint bubbling, Baxter said.

Were happy and proud to say we protected that piece of history, especially at the beginning of Memorial Day [weekend], Baxter said.

The walls of the warehouse collapsed, but firefighters were able to hold the flames to that building. No injuries were reported and no other buildings were significantly damaged, Baxter said.

By about 8:30 a.m., there were still active flames in the warehouse and authorities were evaluating the structural integrity of the pier, but they were confident the fire was contained.

Baxter credited regular training drills for helping firefighters take quick action.

This could very easily have been a conflagration. We pride ourselves that this is one of the areas we do weekly drills on, he said, referring to training aimed at preventing blazes from spreading to surrounding structures.

It wasnt immediately clear what caused the fire, but authorities said they were looking into whether anyone was inside the warehouse before it broke out.

We do have concerns this is a congregation area for the homeless and we do have reports that the homeless do on occasion go into that structure to sleep, Baxter said. At this time we do not have any indication that is the case, but that is one of the main points our fire investigator will be looking at.

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