No Sign of Foul Play as Investigators Say Fire Started in Cole Hardware Building


Yesterday, the San Francisco Fire Department held a press briefing at Secession Art and Design to provide an update on the status of the investigation into Saturday’s traumatic five-alarm fire. You can watch a video of the full session here.

ABC7 says so far there’s no evidence of foul play in connection with the fire:

“The building of origin is 3312 which is the Cole’s Hardware store with residential above it. As to the exact spot within that building, that’s still under investigation,” San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Jonathan Baxter said.

One of the immediate concerns when this fire broke out and one that remains from neighborhood residents is what seems to be a disturbing trend of devastating fires at low income, rent controlled buildings.

But the fire department said they’ve never been able to find a nefarious link to this or any other Mission District fires, so far. “Past fires have been attributed to electrical issues, heating issues and human error issues,” Baxter said.

Some residents were allowed to return home to retrieve belongings.

Officials said 57 people were displaced, and half are from the corner building, a low income voucher hotel.

The property was damaged, but city agencies told ABC7 News it can be repaired so residents can eventually move back in.

Cole’s Hardware will be torn down as a total loss and the same goes for the Playa Azul restaurant building.

Other than the fact that the fire started at an unknown location in the Cole Hardware building, there were few other salient details from the press conference:

  • There were four residential units above Cole Hardware.
  • The exact spot where the fire started in the Cole Hardware building is not yet known.
  • The sprinklers at the Graywood Hotel were operational, and the sprinklers activated during the fire.
  • The fire alarm system at the Graywood Hotel also activated.
  • There were no open fire hazard complaints for the Graywood Hotel or Cole Hardware buildings.

Meanwhile, efforts are continuing to find more permanent shelter for those displaced by the fire, and significant resources are now being applied to the problem.

The Graywood Hotel is believed to be repairable, and the expectation is that residents will be able to move back in once repairs are complete. That’s the good news. The bad news is that repairs may take a long time.

Bernalwood is involved with several efforts to provide assistance to displaced residents and raise funds to help defray their housing costs, and we’ll have more to say about all that very soon. Local merchants are also rallying to help impacted small businesses. It should come as no surprise, but our community has risen to the occasion to provide the assistance the fire victims need. Stay tuned for more detail about additional ways you can help.

PHOTO: Fire scene on the morning after, June 19, 2016, by Telstar Logistics

13 thoughts on “No Sign of Foul Play as Investigators Say Fire Started in Cole Hardware Building

  1. That Cole Hardware operated a recycling drop-off point for batteries, paint and other household chemicals that didn’t qualify for curbside recycling. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear that’s where the fire started: a pile of old lithium-ion batteries right next to a pile of spray cans…

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