Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Conflagration on Mission Street

In the later afternoon of June 18th we heard what sounded like the sirens of every fire engine in San Francisco heading for our neighborhood. We looked out over the Mission and saw nothing so we went to the end of our yard and looked back at our hill. There was an enormous plume of smoke in the sky. We could not see where it was coming from, because of the intervening hill, but it seemed to be coming from Mission St.

In the 19th Century, when Bernal Hill was a pasture, it was bounded by streams and marshes on all sides. In the 21st Century it's bounded by city thoroughfares and freeways on all sides. The thoroughfare to the west is Mission St. We soon learned from the internet that multiple building were burning. It took hours for the Fire Department to get the fire under control. Fifty Eight people were made homeless. The firemen used so much water that neighboring 29th Street was under a foot of it.

We learned about all this from the internet. It wasn't until two days later that we saw the destruction with our own eyes. The building in the center, Cole Hardware and the Mexican restaurant on the left, Plaza Azul, were completely destroyed.

The Mexican restaurant, El Paisa, on the left is repairable.

This building, which has a taqueria called El Gran Taco Loco and an ancient neighborhood bar called The 3300 Club on the ground floor and a SRO Hotel, called The Greywood, on the upper floors is also repairable but it will probably take a long time. In a dark irony, several of the residents were formerly homeless and now they are again.

The invaluable neighborhood blog, Bernalwood, has posted photos shot from a drone that give a much truer sense of the desolation than my eye level photos.


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