A four-alarm fire on San Francisco's Hyde Street early this morning destroyed an apartment building, hospitalized three people and displaced dozens of others, a fire department spokeswoman said.
The blaze was reported shortly after 5 a.m. at a four-story, eight-unit building at 824 Hyde St., between Sutter and Bush streets, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge said.
About 40 minutes into battling the blaze, firefighters discovered flames had spread to a stairwell between the second and third floors, and the decision was made to get all the firefighters out of the building, Talmadge said.
"As soon as they realized they weren't going to get up (to the upper floors), they pulled everyone out since it was clear the roof was going to cave in," she said.
She said from that point, crews focused on keeping the fire contained to that building, although flames did damage one apartment in an adjacent building at 830 Hyde St.
The fire was controlled at about 7:30 a.m., but firefighters will remain at the scene into the evening "to make sure nothing flares up again," Talmadge said. Three people were taken to St. Francis Memorial Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. They were later released, hospital spokeswoman Abbie Yant said.
Employees at the hospital, located a block up Hyde Street from where the fire burned, helped the American Red Cross set up a room where displaced residents could rest, and provided snacks and beverages for them.
About 10 of those people were assessed by hospital staff for possible smoke inhalation but none required treatment, Talmadge said.
Red Cross spokesman Steve Sharp said a total of about 75 displaced residents requested assistance. The organization was working on setting up a shelter for the residents this morning.
The building at 824 Hyde St. is "a total loss" and will have to be torn down, Talmadge said.
She said only one apartment at 830 Hyde St. sustained fire damage, but all 10 units in that building had smoke, water or other damage. All utilities have been shut off, and residents will not be able to return today.
The cause of the blaze is under investigation, she said.