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

A fireboat continues to pour water on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco on Saturday morning after a massive fire erupted overnight at a warehouse.
A fireboat continues to pour water on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco on Saturday morning after a massive fire erupted overnight at a warehouse.
(Associated Press)

Firefighters were able to save a historic warship after a massive fire ripped through a warehouse at Fisherman’s 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.

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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 O’Brien, 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 O’Brien was some minor paint bubbling, Baxter said.

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“We’re 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. One firefighter suffered a severe hand laceration and was taken to a local hospital for treatment, Baxter said. No other buildings were significantly damaged, he said.

The fire was declared under control about 2 p.m.

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

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“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 wasn’t 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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