SF Firefighter Critically Hurt Fighting Blaze

3-alarm fire burns out of control for more than an hour

SAN FRANCISCO-- A San Francisco firefighter is in the hospital with  life-threatening respiratory problems this afternoon after a roof collapsed  during a three-alarm fire at a vacant home this morning.
The man who is struggling for his life is an 11-year veteran of  the department and was one of six firefighters injured in the 12:30 a.m.  blaze that gutted a pink two-story house at 637 Felton St.

A second firefighter was also still hospitalized as of midday,  with first- and second-degree burns, San Francisco fire Lt. Mindy Talmadge  said.

The other four firefighters were treated for injuries including  burns, respiratory problems and a broken ankle and released, Talmadge said.

At a news conference late this morning in front of the home, Fire  Chief Joanne Hayes-White said both the cause of the fire and the response are  being investigated.

"We want to keep ... anyone who was injured in our thoughts and  prayers and find out exactly what happened," Hayes-White said.

She said all aspects of the blaze are being looked into, from the  breathing equipment the firefighters were using to what sparked the flames.  Arson units were called to the scene but that is typical protocol and there  was no immediate indication the blaze was set intentionally, she said.

When firefighters arrived early this morning after a neighbor  reported the blaze, the smoke was thick, and the attic and a back section of  the home were already engulfed in flames, fire officials said.

They immediately called a second alarm. When a section of the roof  collapsed, they called a third alarm.

None of the firefighters were actually hit by the roof, but the  collapse sent a sudden burst of heat down a hallway, which caused the  injuries, Fire Chief of Operations Patrick Gardner said.

The flames were controlled by 1:10 a.m. but firefighters and  safety personnel were still at the scene at noon today.

"We'll be here as long as it takes to determine the cause and  origin," Hayes-White said.

Gardner said more than 100 firefighters helped battle the flames.

Hayes-White said the six firefighters' injuries have affected the  whole department. "We are family," she said.


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