SAN FRANCISCO — Fire officials in San Francisco called teachers from a nearby elementary school “true heroes” after they helped residents escape from a Western Addition apartment complex that was engulfed in flames Friday morning.
Just before 10:30 a.m., the San Francisco Fire Department Public Information Officer Twitter account posted several photos of smoke rising from what was later confirmed by authorities to be an apartment complex 10 Inca Lane in the Western Addition.
Fire crews were able to rescue seven people — including one critically injured victim — from the two-alarm fire Friday morning, but it turned out even more residents were rescued before authorities arrived.
The San Francisco Unified School District Twitter account tweeted praise for a pair of teachers from nearby Rosa Parks Elementary School who helped with the rescue of elderly residents at the fire. The school is located on the 1500 block of O’Farrell Street, just a short distance from Inca Lane.
“The school community came together to support fire victims and each other. We are very glad that all students and staff are safe,” the tweet read.
While San Francisco Fire officials were still trying to sort out the specifics of the rescue, they confirmed that teachers helped get up to nine residents out of the burning structure.
“Three people are suspected of being rescued before SFFD (most likely by the teachers), with half a dozen more being assisted out prior to our arrival — most likely by the Rosa Parks staff,” SFFD Lt. Jonathan Baxter said in an email.
San Francisco Fire also retweeted the SFUSD tweet, saying, “These teachers are True Heroes.”
Approximately 65 firefighters from multiple area stations responded to the scene.
San Francisco Fire initially said that a total of four people were rescued with injuries from the fire. One person sustained critical injuries, while two suffered moderate injuries and one person had minor injuries. Fire officials later provided an update saying that a total of five adults were rescued, with two in critical condition and two in serious condition besides the one person who suffered minor injuries.
The fire was still burning actively on the second and third floors of the building as of 10:49 a.m. The fire did not extend to neighboring structures.
The address of the building was later corrected to 10 Inca Lane by fire officials. The fire was contained as of 11:37 a.m.
SFFD Assistant Chief Bob Postel said arriving firefighters found “heavy fire burning on the first and second floors with immediate rescues.”
“Crews immediately pulled out two people from the top floor in the rear, two people out of the ground floor in the rear who were trapped, one person from the second floor in the rear, as well as two additional people from the rear of what we would call the delta building, one building to the right of the three units that were involved in the fire,” said Postel.
Postel also offered some clarification on the number of people injured. A total of seven people were hurt, with one critically injured victim — an elderly woman. The rest suffered moderate to severe injuries, Postel said. Five total fire victims were transported to area hospitals.
An SFFD tweet later said that 18 people were displaced by the fire and are receiving assistance from the Red Cross.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but authorities said it appeared to have started on the first floor and work its way up the building.