The massive, multiple-alarm fire that erupted Tuesday in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood brought back memories for firefighters who battled a similar blaze in the South Bay.
The Santana Row fire that burned in San Jose 12 years ago was another construction project that raged like an inferno. It remains the biggest firefight of San Jose Fire Department Capt. Melvin Meeks' career.
"It looked unreal," Meeks said of the Santana Row blaze. "It didn't look real, it looked like a matchbox."
Meeks applauded how quickly the San Francisco Fire Department knocked down the Mission Bay fire.
"You don't even know what type of impact you're making because it's just such a huge fire," he said. "You're trying to surround it and yes, it was such a long day."
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee credited the city's auxiliary high-pressure water system in helping contain the Mission Bay fire.
San Jose Fire Marshall Johnny Dellinger said a high-pressure system is important in San Francisco, which is a high-density, high-rise city. He said in San Jose, when the fire department needs more water, crews ask three water companies to increase the pressure.
After the Santana Row fire, which caused $130 million in damage, San Jose passed an ordinance to require fire protection measures during construction, not just after.
Those measure require access to water and to the building site throughout construction, standpipes above three stories and a safety officer and safety plan to mitigate fire dangers.
"We absolutely learn from life lessons," Dellinger said. "And Santana Row was a life lesson."