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North Beach Fire Began in Restaurant Without Sprinkler System, SFFD Says

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But sprinklers weren’t mandated in the building and may not have saved it

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A four-alarm fire that burned through a building at 659 Union Street in North Beach last month began in one of four restaurants in the building, San Francisco Fire Marshal Dan De Cossio tells KQED. He has not said which restaurant — Ferry Plaza Seafood (653 Union), Tuk Tuk Thai Café (659 Union), The Salzburg (663 union), and Rogue Ales Public House (673 Union) — may have been the source of the fire. However, De Cossio does report that just one of the four businesses was equipped with a sprinkler system, and not the one from which the fire originated.

The fire official was also careful to note that sprinklers were not legally mandated on the first floor of the 1914-built building due to its age. He also questioned whether they could have wholly prevented the fire from spreading. The blaze quickly found the building’s upper floors, mostly abandoned apartments that were still damaged and under reconstruction after a 2013 fire in the space.

In response to the fire, which displaced as many as 50 workers and at least eight residents, the city has authorized use of the Small Business Disaster Relief Fund, which will give access to $10,000 in funds to each affected business. That will help the restaurants and other businesses in the burned building, like Coit Liquors, with “inventory replacement, equipment purchases, security deposits for a new lease, employee salaries and other expenses to stabilize cash flow.”