A five-alarm fire near San Francisco’s Central Freeway destroyed six buildings Tuesday morning, including a commissary kitchen used by restaurants like Nigerian spot Eko Kitchen, Indonesian pop-up ChiliCali, and the former home of Revenge Pies, which had vacated the building just a few months before.
Master stream set up. #5thalarm this morning. Original dispatch came in as a “small outside fire” with 1 engine, 1 truck and a Chief. As crews got on scene they quickly realized they were dealing with a large #fire with access issues and a heavy fire load. pic.twitter.com/A8Gtbu1ATL— San Francisco Firefighters 798 (@SFFFLocal798) July 28, 2020
According to San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Jonathan Baxter, the blaze began at a building on 14th Street, near South Van Ness Avenue, at around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. It swiftly spread to five neighboring buildings, including the 160 14th Street location that — per inspection records from San Francisco’s Department of Public Health — was also the commissary kitchen for French catering operation Crepe Madame, plant-based food delivery service Green Tiffin, Japanese snack spot Oyatsuya, and other delivery-only fare.
The BC called a working fire, pulled a full box (2 more engines, another truck, BC, Rescue Squad, AC, ambulance, Rescue Captain and RIC team) but it quickly went to a 5th alarm as the fire ripped through adjoining buildings. courtesy of @CitizenAppSFO pic.twitter.com/QZP8nPzeu7— San Francisco Firefighters 798 (@SFFFLocal798) July 28, 2020
The fire burned so rapidly and so intensely that 160 firefighters were called to the scene via 60 vehicles. By 11 a.m., the blaze was contained, though Baxter says that firefighters will remain on the scene overnight to monitor for hot spots.
Only one injury was reported in the blaze, a fire chief who “got knocked in the head a little bit,” Deputy Fire Chief Victor Wyrsch said in a press briefing. “He’s a tough guy,” Wyrsch said. “We took him to the hospital as a precaution.”
Via Instagram, ChiliCali confirmed that the fire “burned down our commercial kitchen and other neighboring buildings.” The restaurant “we will not be hosting pop-up this weekend until further notice,” it writes, “as we need to find a new commissary kitchen and figure out other logistics...wish us luck finding a new home.”
I was walking towards this fire not knowing that it was my business that was burning to the ground. Jesus take control. https://t.co/1I3VseA4YP— Simileoluwa. (@simileolu) July 28, 2020
Via Twitter, Eko Kitchen owner Simileoluwa Adebajo says that she “was walking towards this fire not knowing that it was my business that was burning to the ground.” She tells the SF Chronicle that the only reason she wasn’t in the kitchen when the fire broke out was because she chose to sleep in today.
“I was already running late for my (food) pickup,” she told the Chron, “and I get there and my building is burning to the ground, literally.”
Eko is the only Nigerian restaurant in SF, which makes the job of rebuilding even harder than it might be otherwise, Adebajo says, as “a lot of our pots and pans and appliances, and a lot of the items I have to import from Nigeria like palm oil and yams, were all there.” Now, she says, “I’m going to have to buy it all back” before her business — which is located a few blocks away, on 11th Street, will be back to normal.