SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A massive four-alarm fire erupted at a warehouse on the San Francisco waterfront at Fisherman’s Wharf early Saturday which threatened to engulf the historic U.S. liberty ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien and destroyed historic Shed C at Pier 45.
San Francisco fire department spokesman Jonathan Baxter said a firefighter who sustained a hand injury while battling the blaze is in stable condition. No other injuries were reported.
The firefighters began responding to 911 calls of a fire on the waterfront at Taylor and Jones streets around 4:15 a.m. Arriving crews were confronted with towering flames engulfing building, forcing them to take a defensive stance. The fire tore through Shed C, near the end of the concrete Pier 45, causing its walls to collapse, Baxter said. The flames singed the first fire truck to respond to the scene, forcing firefighters to turn their hoses on the vehicle to save it, he added.
The structure was being used primarily for storage for fish-processing equipment and held a few offices, including for the Red & White Fleet of sightseeing boats.
Shortly after firefighters arrived, San Francisco’s Fireboat 3 came on the scene, battling the blaze next to the O’Brien but fire had spread underneath the pier.
Baxter said the fireboat crew saved the historic liberty ship that participated in the Allies invasion of Normandy on D-Day in 1944.
“When firefighters arrived, the flames were literally lapping over the Jeremiah O’Brien,” he said. “They literally saved the O’Brien.”
Crews were also able to prevent the blaze from spreading to the USS Pampanito, which is also docked at the pier.
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By 2 p.m., the fire was under control, fire officials said. Streets around the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood were closed off.
Baxter said rescue crews searched the smoldering remains as best they could to make sure there were no victims of the blaze.
He said at the height of the battle with the flames there were 130 firefighters and 50 apparatus on the scene. The Coast Guard was on the scene helping to police the waters.
Musée Mécanique, a popular interactive museum housing 20th-century penny arcade games and artifacts at the south end of the pier was not damaged.
The fire could be seen for miles. A large plume of smoke covered much of the San Francisco Bay, stretching from Sausalito to Oakland. Several residents have reported on social media being able to smell the smoke.
Visitors to San Francisco’s popular Fisherman’s Wharf are very familiar with the pier as it has several old warships docked there.
Fire crews planning to monitor for hot spots through the evening. Motorists and boaters are advised to avoid the area.
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World news – GB – VIDEO: Massive 4-Alarm Fire Destroys Warehouse on San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf