San Francisco News

10 SF firefighters suffer smoke inhalation

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In San Francisco, dozens of firefighters converged on Union Square Wednesday evening after a fire broke out at the Tiffany building. Much of it filled with toxic smoke, which put firefighters in danger.

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Several firefighters were taken to the hospital because they had to deal with a lot of toxic smoke which ended up filling the entire building.

It's one of the more prominent stores at Union Square and early Wednesday evening, its building was on fire. Just before 7 p.m., heavy smoke started coming out of the Tiffany building on Post Street. Tom Sweeney, the doorman at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel called the fire department.

"Some tourist yelled to me the fire was coming from the Post Street side of the building, the Tiffany building, in the basement, so I directed the fire units to the Post Street side of the building and they found it here, but it took a while to find," said Sweeney

When firefighters arrived, every floor of the 11-story high-rise was filled with smoke. The building was evacuated and soon after, crews figured out the fire was coming from the electrical storage unit in the basement.

"They were able to find that fire and extinguish it within the 25 minutes and get the smoke evacuated out of the building," said fire Lt. Ken Smith.

Despite those efforts, the Tiffany store did sustain smoke damage. The jewelry, however, appears to be intact. Police stood watch at the entrance making sure no one took advantage of the situation.

As for the firefighters, 10 of them were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. The toxic smoke from the electrical equipment proved to be a bit overwhelming.

"That smoke is different than wood. So it's just like when you're burning wood in your fireplace you can sit there and smell that, when you're burning anything else it's very difficult," said Lt. Smith.

It is unclear if the Tiffany store and the rest of the building will be open on Thursday because there is a lot of water in the basement and smoke damage throughout the building.

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