Crews have started demolishing the remains of an apartment building that was under construction in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood when it was destroyed in a five-alarm fire this week, and the once six-story building is now down to four.
The construction company, Suffolk Construction Co., brought in equipment around 3 p.m. on Wednesday to pull apart the gutted building, parts of which were threatening to collapse, Deputy Chief Mark Gonzales said. Crews knocked down the tallest walls, most vulnerable to collapse. On Thursday, crews focused on the southwest corner of the building as firefighters still sprayed water on remaining hot spots.
Across the street from the burned site on Fourth Street in China Basin, residents went back home to the Strata Apartments. Carolin Halff just moved here from London and as a newcomer, was shocked to see a massive fire raging outside her window earlier this week.
"Let's just keep our fingers crossed it will all be fine," she said, going back home.
The Mission Bay fire was reported just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday and quickly grew, sending up a dark plume of smoke that could be seen from many parts of the Bay Area. Flames spread and engulfed the building, and there was initial concern that the blaze could spread to other structures. Fire officials said at a news conference that they are looking at welding torchwork that may have sparked the fire, but an arson team has not yet been able to survey the site, so they do not have an exact cause.
The blaze was contained to the building under construction near AT&T Park. But nearby buildings, including the Strata at Mission Bay apartments and a building at the University of California at San Francisco Mission Bay campus, were damaged by flying embers, excessive heat and smoke.
The 172-unit building was part of a development project by BRE Properties known as MB360. Company officials released a statement Tuesday saying that the building was known as Block 5.
Sasha Lekach is a reporter for Bay City News.